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Children and young people missing out on vital care due to lack of community nurses

Audit reveals shortage of community children's nurses in acute general children’s services and GP practices in the UK
Child healthcare

Audit reveals shortage of community children's nurses in acute general children’s services and GP practices in the UK

The Facing the Future Audit 2017 by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) found only 14.9% of acute general children’s services are supported by a round-the-clock community children’s nursing service.

Furthermore, the audit found only 11.2% of GP practices are linked with a community children’s nurse.

Paying the price

RCN professional lead for children and young people Fiona Smith said children are paying the price of the shortfall.

‘The severe lack of registered children’s nurses means that children and young people are missing out on the vital care they need,’ she said.

‘The report highlights that children’s community nursing services are critical for ensuring timely discharge from hospital and for preventing readmissions. Yet these essential services

Audit reveals shortage of community children's nurses in acute general children’s services and GP practices in the UK

Child healthcare
Picture: iStock

The Facing the Future Audit 2017 by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) found only 14.9% of acute general children’s services are supported by a round-the-clock community children’s nursing service.

Furthermore, the audit found only 11.2% of GP practices are linked with a community children’s nurse.

Paying the price

RCN professional lead for children and young people Fiona Smith said children are paying the price of the shortfall.

‘The severe lack of registered children’s nurses means that children and young people are missing out on the vital care they need,’ she said.

‘The report highlights that children’s community nursing services are critical for ensuring timely discharge from hospital and for preventing readmissions. Yet these essential services are being decommissioned – disadvantaging children and young people who are cared for at home.’

Long-term health

Fiona Smith
Fiona Smith.
Picture: Neil O'Connor

Ms Smith said children’s and young people’s health was essential to the long-term health of the country.

'Greater collaboration is needed between all children’s services and the RCN welcomes the opportunity to work with RCPCH and the Royal College of General Practitioners to help improve standards,' she said. 

‘There are no second chances for children and young people’s health – the government must adequately fund and properly resource their healthcare or risk storing up problems for the future.'

The audit also found consultant paediatricians were only present in 38.7% of UK hospitals during weekday peak hours, with this figure dropping to 28.6% at weekends.

More support needed

RCPCH vice-president for health policy Carol Ewing said staff were doing their best but needed more support.

‘It is down to the sheer dedication of our doctors that children are being treated as safely as they possibly can on paediatric wards in the UK, but the risk of burn out is all too real,’ she said.

Dr Ewing added that the RCPCH was calling on UK governments to fund an increase in the number of paediatric medicine trainee places.

Further information


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