The Queen’s Nursing Institute has commissioned and published a new independent report, District Nursing Today: the View of District Nurse Team Leaders in the UK.
It is the first general review of the district nursing profession to be released since the publication of ‘2020 Vision Five Years On’ in 2014.
The findings, based on a survey of over 2500 nurses, reveal an evolving healthcare workforce crisis set against a backdrop of rising demand for district nursing services across all UK regions. This study shows that for District Nurses (DNs), working conditions, pay, education and training have not improved since the previous QNI report was published:
- Working large amounts of unpaid overtime: One in five (22%) of respondents work a day or more of unpaid overtime each week. One-third of respondents work over 4-7 hours per week that is not reflected in their salary; unpaid overtime is undertaken by 90% of all respondents and there is significant variation between regions;
- An ageing workforce heading for retirement; the workforce is drawn from an ageing population, with the majority of respondents to this survey aged over 45 years and with 46% planning to either retire or leave in the next six years (25% to retire, 21% to leave);
- Lack of IT support to do the job efficiently: 36% of respondents reported that Information Technology, or lack access to efficient IT systems, connectivity and support infrastructure is one of the main factors making their role more difficult to sustain;
- The lack of training and development available to District Nurses is a key factor reported to be influencing those looking to leave the profession. Other factors cited include a lack of appraisals and access to regular clinical supervision;
- Unmanageable caseloads per individual is cited as another challenging factor with almost 30% of teams having a caseload of over 400 patients/people;
- Insufficient time to devote proper care to patients. 63% respondents say they defer visits or delay the delivery of patient care on a daily basis;
- Stagnation and lack of progression in the workforce: 75% of respondents state they have vacancies or ‘frozen posts’ in their teams;
- No administrative support: 28% of respondents have no access to administrative support staff;
- Variation in pay of District Nurses acting as team leaders and significant regional variation in the pay band of District Nurses holding the Specialist Practitioner Qualification.