District nursing ‘crisis’ putting care in the community aims at risk

District nurses are struggling to deliver care because staff numbers are not keeping pace with demand, the King’s Fund has said.

A new report from the think tank, based on research into three district nursing services which provide care at home, found staff at all three are reporting a dramatic increase in the number of patients and the complexity of their conditions.

This also meant nurses were required to provide more complex services, with one team leader saying they were acting “like hospitals at home”. This was combined with a high staff turnover and decreasing numbers, with one service having lost half its staff in the past three years.

Nationally, the number of full-time equivalent district nurses fell by 13.6% in March 2014-16.

The report said nurses were trapped in a “vicious circle” where the pressure on staff was encouraging nurses to leave their jobs, making the work harder for the remaining nurses, which makes it harder to recruit more.

Staff were also likely to leave to work in primary and specialist care, which are perceived as less stressful, or to work as hospital nurses and health visitors, where the government is seeking to boost numbers.

Full story in National Health Executive 1 September 2016