The key issues the RCN highlighted to the committee:
Nurses working in the community are central to the Welsh Government's policy of delivering care at or close to home. They have a variety of roles and work in various settings including public health, making them the fabric of community services. It is essential therefore that Health Education and Improvement Wales puts this workforce at the centre of the workforce strategy they are developing for the Welsh Government to deliver its plan ‘Healthier Wales’. We believe this plan should look to increase the numbers of nurses working in all community settings including District Nurses, Health Visitors, School Nurses, Community Psychiatric Nurses and Children’s Nurses.
The Welsh Government should extend the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016 to include community nursing as a priority. The Nurse Staffing Levels Act 2016 became law in March 2016 and requires health service organisations to use a prescribed method to calculate and maintain the nurse staffing level in certain wards. We believe this requirement to calculate and maintain a nurse staffing level should be extended into community settings. In order to do this RCN Wales believes the use of hand-held computer devices with instant access to patient and clients information should be standard across services in Wales. Community nurses can then collect the information required to make the nurse staffing level calculation.
Helen Whyley, Director of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, said: “There is a large older population in Wales with an increasing number of people who have long-term conditions. Our NHS needs to respond to the needs of patients which includes the need for them to be cared for in their own homes. Community nursing has a major role to play in developing services to do this and delivering on the principles of prudent healthcare.
We know that investment in district nursing is declining despite RCN Wales asking for workforce planning to strengthen the district nursing workforce. The RCN is asking the Welsh Government to set out a renewed vision for primary, community and social care including the role and value of community nursing."
Alison Magor, District Nurse and RCN Welsh Board Member, said: “The plan for health in Wales is based on ‘care closer to home’. In order to meet this growing challenge of the needs of patients in community this will depend upon having a robust nursing workforce.
The district nursing workforce is ageing with staff retiring and leaving with burnout and stress from continuously working short staffed and under intense pressure. Our patients deserve to have the high standards of nursing care that we wish to give them and for that care to be of an equitable standard to all other nursing environments. Unless we are able to recruit more community nurses and train them to district nurse level we will be unable to progress with the vision for Health in Wales for Care closer to home”.