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Community nursing “overburdened and at risk”

Nurses spending less time with patients than a year ago

Jo Carlowe

Monday, 14 May 2012

Cutbacks are forcing nurses to spend less time with patients resulting in a deterioration in patient care.

This is the finding from the Royal College of Nursing in a survey of community nurses.

Some 2,681 RCN members working in the community responded to the survey which revealed that only 6% of participants said they always had time to meet the needs of their patients. Almost half said their caseload had increased over the last year and nearly six in ten reported that they were spending less time with their patients than a year ago.

Government plans to move care from acute hospitals to community settings have been branded a ‘façade’ by the RCN as the organisation says the survey demonstrates that community services are ‘overburdened, underinvested and at risk from cutbacks’.

RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary Dr Peter Carter has warned this will result in many nurses reaching breaking point and a deterioration in patient care.

“We are now seeing a clear and worrying picture of a health service which is struggling. It is struggling to keep people out of hospital because of pressures on the community, and it is struggling to discharge them with support when they leave. Very soon, patients will be left with nowhere to turn,” he said. “This is a revolving door for patients, but it also represents a false economy at a time when there is no money to spare. We want care to be delivered closer to home, and we want community nurses to be empowered to keep their patients out of hospital, but at the moment this shift in the way care is delivered is simply a facade, with the community struggling to cope with the workload it has now, let alone the one it faces in the future.”

The RCN has released data from its Frontline First campaign in which it states more than 61,000 NHS posts are at risk of being cut. The RCN is calling on the Government and employers to take these figures seriously.

“We would urge the Government, as well as employers, to listen to what we, and other respected organisations, are saying and sort this out. The RCN will continue to identify where posts are under threat, and will work both nationally and locally to oppose short sighted cuts that damage patient care,” added Dr Carter.

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