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District nurse numbers on the rise

The numbers of district nurses in training has seen a sharp rise in England, new figures from the Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI) show. 

In England, 351 district nurses are due to qualify this summer, compared to 251 in 2013, an increase of 38%. 

There were 427 new entrants to the district nurse programme in 2013/14 in the UK, of which 30% are registered on the part-time rouse. 

There has also been a 25% increase in the number of universities running specialist district nursing programmes, compared to 2012/13. 

And 31% more programmes are running with 11 or more students in each cohort compared to 2012/13. 

QNI chief executive Dr Crystal Oldman (pictured) said: "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. 

"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."

Dr Michael Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance said: "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."