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Scottish community nurses note staffing levels drop

NHS Scotland needs to “rapidly” increase its investment in community nursing if it is to meet growing demand.

A survey by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland found nearly two-thirds of community nurses (61%) had reported a decrease in staffing levels in the past year.

Over three-quarters of those polled (78%) said their caseload had increased and 49% said they had less time with patients than they did a year ago.

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland Director Theresa Fyffe said shifting care out of hospitals to the community “simply will not work” if nursing numbers are not increased.

“The laudable aspiration of delivering more care closer to home rather than in hospitals will remain just that - an aspiration - unless the community nursing workforce is bolstered over the next few years,” she said.
“Community nurses are telling us that they are overburdened already, so shifting more services to the community is simply not going to work unless action is taken to ensure we have enough community nurses to deliver them. Not only that, investment needs to be made in their education and training to make sure they are equipped with the appropriate skills to be able to care for the increasingly complex needs of patients.”
Many nurses responding to the survey also raised concerns over vulnerable patients being discharged from hospital before support from social care is put in place in the community - something that can result in patients 'bouncing' between overstretched services.