News

Ready, steady, care! When a home visit is just too short to be safe

Anonymous district nurse raises patient safety concerns about trust time-slot edict
district nurse carries out a finger prick test in patient's home

Anonymous district nurse raises patient safety concerns over trust edict about the time allowed for diabetes care visits

Community nurse leaders have dismissed a suggestion colleagues should be able to make diabetes checks during home visits that are over in less than eight minutes.

They responded to a claim that one trust’s community nurses are allocated just seven and a half minutes to travel to a patient’s home, undertake a diabetes check and complete paperwork before they’re off on their next call.

‘Timings must be based on intelligence and data developed by the nurses who deliver the care and understand the work as done, not work as imagined’

Crystal Oldman, chief executive, Queen’s Nursing Institute

Queen’s Nursing

Anonymous district nurse raises patient safety concerns over trust edict about the time allowed for diabetes care visits

district nurse carries out a finger prick test in patient's home
Picture: iStock

Community nurse leaders have dismissed a suggestion colleagues should be able to make diabetes checks during home visits that are over in less than eight minutes.

They responded to a claim that one trust’s community nurses are allocated just seven and a half minutes to travel to a patient’s home, undertake a diabetes check and complete paperwork before they’re off on their next call.

‘Timings must be based on intelligence and data developed by the nurses who deliver the care and understand the work as done, not work as imagined’

Crystal Oldman, chief executive, Queen’s Nursing Institute

Queen’s Nursing Institute chief executive Crystal Oldman said: ‘It is critical to maintain a focus on patient safety, personalised care, prevention of harm and expert professional practice, which is impossible within a 7.5 minute allocation of time, including travel.’

‘This small amount of time is unsafe’

Many nurses expressed concern about a social media post on the issue, apparently from a community nurse.

The anonymous post states: ‘We have been recently given 7.5 mins for each diabetic patient on the district. This includes driving time and documentation,’ the nurse claimed. ‘Just wondering what other trusts do, as I feel this small amount of time is unsafe.’

The message was originally posted on the private #nursesroar Facebook group, which has more than 34,300 members. It was later shared on Twitter.

Setting timeframes should be the domain of nurses who understand the work

Diabetes nurse consultant Debbie Hicks, co-director of diabetes nursing group Trend Diabetes said: ‘Greeting somebody, asking how they are, then doing a blood test and giving an insulin injection, looking at the notes – that would probably take more than seven and a half minutes.’

Dr Oldman added community nurses need the freedom to use their skills and expert judgement when delivering care in a patient’s home.

Guidance on timings can be helpful, she said, but must be ‘based on intelligence and data developed by the nurses who deliver the care and understand the work as done, not work as imagined’.

Pressures facing a shrinking workforce

NHS Digital figures show there were 4,261 district nurses working in the NHS in England in May 2021, down from 6,987 a decade ago.

A 2020 survey by the RCN district and community nursing forum found some nurses make more than 20 patient visits each day, while 79% of 492 participants said not enough time was allocated for these visits.


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first three months:

  • Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Primary Health Care
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs