Responding to the announcement in Parliament by health minister Stephen Barclay, Dr Crystal Oldman, chief executive of The Queen’s Nursing Institute commented:

‘The QNI is delighted by the announcement of new grants for some postgraduate students in Learning Disability, Mental Health and District Nursing. Urgent action on nurse recruitment is needed, in response to multiple challenges facing the current workforce and the need to train more nurses to meet growing patient need.

‘It is particularly pleasing to see the recognition that District Nurse education requires investment to enable nurses to undertake the specialist programme. One of the reasons nurses say they do not consider training as a District Nurse is that they simply cannot afford to – now there may be an opportunity to offset the considerable cost to the individual nurse – depending on how the new funding is applied.

‘District Nurses are exemplars of integrated care at the individual and service level. They lead services in every village, town and city to provide complex, personalised nurse-led care for individuals, families and carers to enable them to be safely cared for home, co-ordinating services across health, social care and the third sector; they prevent unplanned hospital admissions, reduce delayed transfers of care, support the care of people with complex multiple long-term conditions and enable more people to be cared for at home at the end of their lives.

‘However, at a time when we require far more care to be delivered in the home and community, numbers of District Nurses in practice have declined by more than 43% over the last eight years. This announcement may be the catalyst for a strategic discussion on the number of District Nurses that we will need in the near future.

‘The QNI undertakes its own audit of District Nurse education programmes at universities throughout the UK every year and our next audit, for the previous academic year, will be published in the summer.’

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