Nurse-led services are the backbone of the NHS

The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) conference saw the launch of documents that aim to build capacity in the community workforce, strengthen nursing education and ultimately drive improvement in patient care. 

The QNI – with QNI Scotland – published new Voluntary Standards for General Practice Nursing Education and Practice, following on from similar standards for district nurses. The role of the general practice nurse has grown significantly in recent years and our own research identified a need to reflect this in new standards to 
help nurses, educators and employers across the UK. 

We also published a report on district nurse education. This is the fourth year that the QNI has polled universities to find out how many offer the district nurse specialist practitioner qualification. The picture is one of continued growth in student numbers, but not at the rate required to fill vacancies created by district nurses leaving the service. Almost all universities expressed fears about the future funding arrangements for district nurse postgraduate courses. 

We have a situation where demographic change calls for greater investment in our community and primary care workforce. Media and politicians are obsessed about highly visible hospital waiting lists, emergency department targets and delayed transfers of care. 

The demand on hospitals is directly correlated to the capacity of the community workforce to keep people safe, supported and well in their homes, avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions. 

Nurse-led services are the backbone of the NHS in the community, operating in every village, town and city across the UK, and there is an urgent need to ensure they are properly supported to deliver an ever more complex role.

Crystal Oldman is Chief Executive at the Queen’s Nursing Institute