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Not enough learning disability nurses for future patients

By 2021 the number of people with learning disabilities will increase by 14%, without the corresponding nurses to care for them, a conference has heard.
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By 2021 the number of people with learning disabilities will increase by 14%, without the corresponding nurses to care for them, a conference has heard.

Salford Learning Disability Service clinical nurse specialist Dave Williams said both planned and commissioned places for learning disability nurses had declined in the last decade.

The workforce isnt coming through the system, Mr Williams said at the Learning Disability Practice conference in Manchester on Tuesday.

Losing staff

We have lost 4% of staff since 2011 and there is a [predicted] 14% rise in the numbers of people we are going to work with.

Mr Williams noted rising numbers of nurses retiring and changes to the bursary as other areas of concern for the learning disability nursing workforce.

If we are going to have a transforming care model, we have got to have the workforce to do it.

By 2021 the number of people with learning disabilities will increase by 14%, without the corresponding nurses to care for them, a conference has heard.

Salford Learning Disability Service clinical nurse specialist Dave Williams said both planned and commissioned places for learning disability nurses had declined in the last decade.

‘The workforce isn’t coming through the system,’ Mr Williams said at the Learning Disability Practice conference in Manchester on Tuesday.

Losing staff

‘We have lost 4% of staff since 2011 and there is a [predicted] 14% rise in the numbers of people we are going to work with.’

Mr Williams noted rising numbers of nurses retiring and changes to the bursary as other areas of concern for the learning disability nursing workforce.

‘If we are going to have a transforming care model, we have got to have the workforce to do it.

‘This is not a programme with a 5-year lead in, this is a live transforming care programme.’

Decline in places 

Health Education England Commissioning and Investment Plan shows a clear decline in training places for learning disability nurses.

In 2004/5, there were 1,083 planned and 844 commissioned, while 10 years later, in 2013/14, there were 876 planned and 603 actual places.

During a discussion on whether the learning disability nurse had a clear professional identity, nurses talked about difficulties in establishing this.

One nurse told peers she had recently completed a return to practice course.

Inexperienced 

‘Out of a group of 30, nurses returning to practice, I was the only learning disability nurse,’ she said.

Another nurse who worked in a children’s hospice said she noticed learning disability nursing students did not have much clinical experience when they came on placements.

‘This is even third-year students,’ she said.

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