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District nursing posts cut by 8% in six months

The number of district nurses in the East of England was cut by an average of 8% during a six-month period.

Research carried out by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Eastern showed district nursing cuts ranged from 6% to 26% between February 2011 and October 2011.

The full changes are as follows:

· Suffolk - a fall of 26% from 299.21 staff to 220.24

· South East Essex - a fall of 21% from 174.99 staff to 137.92

· Bedfordshire - a fall of 17% from 218 staff to 181.42

· Norfolk - a fall of 12% from 484.84 staff to 425.99

· South West Essex - a fall of 11% from 228 staff to 203

· Peterborough - a fall of 7% from 67.6 staff to 63.3

· Hertfordshire  - a fall of 6% from 471.35 staff to 444.23

Surprisingly, Central Essex Community Services reported a rise of 30% in district nursing staff numbers from 148.04 staff to 192.1 for the same period.

The RCN's research also showed “wide variations” in the skill mix of district nursing staff between registered and unregistered nurses.

More than 50% of district nursing staff were found to be unregistered in Norfolk compared to 14% in Suffolk.

“At the very heart of the health reforms and the NHS plans to save £20 billion by 2015 is the shift of patient care from hospitals and into the community,” said Karen Webb, RCN Director for the Eastern region.

“Our research shows, however, that shift will be extremely difficult to achieve when district nursing teams are being cut and the skill mix of community nursing may mean that unregistered nursing staff are being left to cope on their own with little supervision from registered district nurses”.   

The RCN represents more than 34,000 nurses across the Eastern region.

Question: Are you experiencing similar cuts being made in other parts of the UK?