Quality of district nursing care under threat

Unmanageable caseloads and shortages of staff in district nursing services are compromising quality of care for some patients according to a new report from The King’s Fund.

District nursing services are a lifeline for many people, providing vital care for patients in their homes. Interviews with patients and unpaid carers, conducted for this report, have highlighted the key role that these services play, and their value for many people living with complex health and care needs.

Although government policy is for more care to be delivered by these types of services, new research carried out for the report found district nursing at breaking point due to a profound and growing gap between capacity and demand.

Although limitations to national data make it difficult to establish a robust account of changes to activity and staffing, the report draws together a range of evidence to show:

  • Activity has increased significantly in recent years both in terms of the number of patients seen and the complexity of the care provided.
  • Available data indicates that the number of nurses working in community health services has declined over recent years, and the number working in senior ‘district nurse’ posts has fallen dramatically over a sustained period.

For full report see The King’s Fund 1 September 2016