Congress demands increased funding for community nursing

Recent figures show a fall in district nursing numbers by 45% since 2010

Funding must be found for community health services to match growing demand, nurses at RCN Congress have urged.

RCN district nursing forum member Julie Green speaking at congress.
Picture: John Houlihan

Leading a debate on the issue, RCN district nursing forum member Julie Green said: ‘Studies suggest that admitting frail, older people into hospital leads to a decline in physical ability and increases the risk of serious complications or even death.

‘And for 70% of patients with a cancer diagnosis at the end of life, home is their preferred place of death – but only around a quarter of patients achieve this aim, with around 50% dying in hospital, 20% in care homes and 4% in specialist care facilities.

She added that recent figures show ‘a fall in district nursing numbers by 45% since 2010, against a backdrop of increased patient acuity and demand.’

Ms Green said there has been much rhetoric from UK governments about moving care out of hospitals and into the community, but ‘the funding has not materialised’.

Appropriate referrals

RCN Portsmouth branch member Helen Brunton urged all nurses to be aware of limited district nursing resources, and to ensure referrals to community care are appropriate.

‘We have some really ludicrous referrals and could be using resources a lot better,’ she said.

Lindsay Carswell.
Picture: John Houlihan

RCN health practitioner committee member Lindsay Carswell said support staff at Band 3 were carrying out more complex tasks that used to be the remit of nurses – such as administering insulin, catheterising, re-dressing complex wounds and bowel care – without this added skillset being reflected in their pay.

London nurse Annique Simpson said ever-increasing workloads were causing community services to haemorrhage Band 5 nurses, whom she called ‘the foot soldiers of care’.

After the debate, congress voted in favour of RCN council demanding that UK governments ensure funding and resources ‘follow the patient so that community nursing capacity can meet increasing demand’.

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