The QNI has today published a new report on the potential of District Nursing services to reduce the number of unplanned admissions to hospital.

The report, Untapped Potential: District Nursing Services and the Avoidance of Unplanned Admission to Hospital, is the latest report from the QNI’s International Community Nursing Observatory (ICNO).

Untapped Potential describes how District Nurse Team Leaders have advanced skills in assessment, diagnosis and patient management which could be used to provide safe and effective care for people at home, preventing unnecessary hospital admissions.

The report argues that the NHS is failing to capitalise on the skills, knowledge and experience of District Nurses and instead is investing in new specialist teams of staff in the community, which may impact negatively on the continuity of care. At the same time, the number of District Nurses has fallen dramatically.

District Nursing in England has been in decline for more than eight years, with numbers falling by 48% since 2010 (Queen’s Nursing Institute, Royal College of Nursing, 2019). Rates in Wales and Northern Ireland have also reduced over the same period. Recently this decline has been reversed with increased investment in training specialist practitioners, but the number joining the profession is not sufficient to return the numbers to their previous level, or to meet growing complexity of need and rising demand.

The QNI calls on the government of each country in the UK to develop and publish a robust workforce plan for community nursing which reverses the decline in staffing and transforms the workforce to meet the current and future healthcare challenges.

The research shows that the workforce has the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to care for a range of patients at home who might otherwise end up in hospital. The only way out of the current pressures on health services is through robust and transparent workforce planning. The Chair of the Health Select Committee Jeremy Hunt MP has tabled an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill to require that UK governments make public their workforce plans for the NHS. No one would argue that the number of staff is important, but we also need to ensure that we fully utilise the specialist skills and knowledge of the staff we have.

Professor John Unsworth

This report shows what could be achieved with a robust workforce plan for community nursing. Services need greater investment to ensure that patients get the high quality, holistic and planned care at home that they deserve. The QNI is committed to not only monitoring workforce pressures and development but also to develop innovative solutions for the healthcare challenges we face today and in the future.

Dr Crystal Oldman CBE, Chief Executive of the QNI


Notes to Editors

The report, Untapped Potential: District Nursing Services and the Avoidance of Unplanned Admission to Hospital is available to download below.

This report marks the second anniversary of the creation of the ICNO with landmark research on care homes, community nursing and care models during this period.

Outstanding Models of District Nursing (QNI and RCN 2019) https://www.qni.org.uk/resources/outstanding-models-of-district-nursing-report/

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