Community children’s nurses feel ‘invisible’ to commissioners

QNI report says despite rising demand, nurses feel their specialism is not understood

Picture: Neil O’Connor

Community children’s nurses believe their contribution to care is not understood, to the extent that they feel ‘invisible’ to commissioners, a report says.

Meanwhile demand for community children’s nurses is rising due to a growing number of young people living longer with serious health conditions.

The findings from a survey of nurses working in the specialism are published in a report by the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI), called Community Children’s Nursing in the 21st Century.

Less visible than hospital counterparts

Concerns among community children’s nurses that their work is not well understood by commissioners are shared by nurses in other community specialisms, who feel less ‘visible’ than their hospital counterparts, the report says.

The survey found that almost half (47.5%) of community children’s nursing services have refused referrals because of a lack of capacity.

One respondent said there are either not enough staff or nurses are seconded to cover wards, meaning community care is put on hold.

The survey also highlighted worries about continuing professional development and questions over qualifications held by community children’s nurses.

Barriers to qualification

Only 39% of the 348 respondents to the survey in December 2017 said they had a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) qualification in community children’s nursing.

Asked if their employer provided support to undertake the community children’s nursing specialist practice qualification at university, half said yes and 21% no.

Others commented that there were barriers, such as:

  • No course available within a reasonable distance.
  • No courses available in Scotland.
  • No replacements available within the team.
  • Lack of time available, given workplace and other pressures.

One respondent said: ‘I feel that because the community children’s nursing course was not run by universities for a few years, we cannot now specify the qualification as a requirement when recruiting team leaders.’

The respondent said this was a great loss as the benefits were ‘immeasurable’ and services were now in a vicious cycle because nurses no longer need to take the course to progress.

Team leaders

The report was released at the QNI Conference, being held in London on 24-25 September, alongside the Voluntary Standards for Community Children’s Nurse Education and Practice, issued jointly by QNI and QNI Scotland.

The standards build on the NMC specialist practice qualification and outline the requirements for community children’s nurses who lead teams in the community sector.

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