Big upsurge in number of district nursing students


The number of students enrolling on district nursing courses in England has increased dramatically, according to new research published by The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI).

This is the second year that the charity has commissioned the research, following concerns that the number of new district nurses qualifying was falling far short of the number needed to replace those leaving the workforce.

Key points from the new research include:

  • 351 district nurses are due to qualify in the summer of 2014 in comparison to 254 in 2013 - an increase of 38% (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland)
  • 427 new entrants to the district nurse programme in 2013/14 in the UK (including Scotland), of which 30% are registered on the part-time route
  • 25% increase in the number of universities running specialist practice district nurse programmes in England in comparison to 2012/13
  • 31% increase in the number of programmes running with 11 or more students in each cohort in comparison to 2012/13.

Dr Crystal Oldman, the QNI’s chief executive commented, ‘Last year’s figures served as a wake-up call to commissioners and educators. At that point many courses had so few students that their viability could be called into question, and 21% of courses did not run at all.

‘The new figures are therefore hugely encouraging. This year we have seen an increase in the number of institutions offering the District Nursing SPQ, and a large overall rise in the number of enrolled students. However this is only part of the picture and suitable employment opportunities must also exist.

‘The QNI will continue to campaign for the right nurse with the right skills to be in place to deliver high quality care in people's homes and communities. Preparation with an appropriate community specialist practice qualification is critical to the leadership of safe, effective care in these contexts.’

Dr Michael Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance, commented, ‘This is definitely a move in the right direction, but we need to ensure that the increased numbers of District Nurses have the specialist knowledge necessary to play a major role in the holistic care of our frail elderly patients and those with long term conditions; while it is about numbers, it’s also about expertise.’

Read more here.

Picture: DIBP @flickr

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