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CPD for district nurses must be taken off ‘the backburner’

CPD for district nurses must be taken off ‘the backburner’

Increased workplace pressures and patient demand has seen continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities for district nurses put on ‘the backburner’, a conference has heard.

In a debate at this year’s Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Congress in Wales, nurses took to the stage to promote ‘lifelong learning’ and called for improved opportunities for CPD across all settings and nursing roles.

Amy Hughes, District and Community Nursing Forum member, said a lack of CPD amid increased workplace demands was ‘leading to the deskilling’ of experienced nurses.

‘District nurses are seeing an increase in caseloads and patients with complex care needs,’ she told the conference.

‘We are the wards without walls and with mounting pressure to see more and more patients each day, our CPD is often the first thing to be deferred to accommodate more and more patient visits.’

She added: ‘This is leading to the deskilling of our experienced staff and the inability to upskill our newly qualified staff.’

Ms Hughes explained that CPD helped with staff retention, staff ‘being valued’ and encourages ‘essential learning from evidence-based practice’.

‘If CPD continues to be put on the back burner for district nursing, how can we expect our nursing staff to deliver the best safe patient care possible?,’ she added.

The resolution, led by Richard Jones,  deputy director of RCN Wales, called for RCN Council to lobby governments to place ‘statutory duty’ on all employers to provide ‘contractual and fully funded’ CPD.

Mr Jones told the conference: ‘It is so important that we have nurses and members of the nursing family that are actually up do date and they fit within their role.’

Seconding the motion, Ally Middleton from the RCN Education Forum, said: ‘Continuing professional development is not a luxury, it’s an essential part of modern healthcare, it ensures we’re up to date with the latest practices, thereby enhancing patient safety, improving outcomes and reducing errors.

‘The burden of funding and organising CPD often falls on the nurses themselves, many of whom already struggle with demanding workloads on limited resources.’

She added that despite the dedication and expertise of nurses who are ‘the backbone of the NHS’, the profession faces challenges from the a ‘rapidly changing clinical landscape’, with new technologies and protocol emerging at ‘an unprecedented rate’.

‘Without proper CPD we cannot be expected to stay abreast with these. CPD is the annual updates of your mandated training that your employer has to provide for health and safety reasons,’ said Ms Middleton.

Reinforcing the need for fully funded CPD, Ms Middleton added: ‘We can ensure that every nurse has the opportunity to continually enhance their skills and knowledge without added financial stress or logistical barriers.

‘Investing in our nurses’ professional development is an investment in the future of our healthcare system itself.’

Meanwhile, Patience Bamisaye, member in the RCN’s Eastern region, addressed the need for ‘equal access’ in CPD, pointing to NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard data which showed the underrepresentation of the Black and ethnic minority on funded CPD courses.

‘Please Council, look at this, please consider that good efforts have been done but we’re not there yet,’ she said.

‘Consider the internationally educated nurses who need funded CPD as well.’

The resolution was passed by voting members of the union on day one of RCN Congress, which is being held in Newport this week.

Also this week, a debate was held on the poor state of healthcare buildings which heard from general practice nurses who were forced to turn cleaning cupboards into clinic rooms because of a lack of space.

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