A rise in the number of newly-trained recruits seeking NHS district nursing jobs has been welcomed by organisations representing the nursing sector.
Data from the Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI) has been highlighted by the Nursing Times showing that 351 district nurses are due to qualify in England, Wales and Northern Ireland this summer - a rise of 38 per cent compared to last year.
A total of 427 new entrants to the district nurse education programme in 2013-14 in the UK were recorded, while there has also been a 25 per cent increase in the number of universities running specialist practice - district nurse programmes in England in comparison to 2012-13, and a 31 per cent rise in the number of programmes running with 11 or more students in each cohort.
District nurses play an essential role in the provision of NHS care thanks to their specialist expertise in addressing the complex needs of older patients in residential care homes, or those who require treatment in their own homes.
However, the QNI published a report earlier this year revealing that the majority of community nurses believe their operations do not have the right balance of staff, while a separate study from the Royal College of Nursing revealed a 47 per cent reduction in the number of qualified district nursing staff in England in the last decade.
As such, this year's increase in trainee district nurses represents a positive development for the sector as a whole.
QNI chief executive Crystal Oldman welcomed the rise in the number of institutions offering the District Nursing SPQ and the rising amount of enrolled students, adding: "This is only part of the picture and suitable employment opportunities must also exist."
Dr Michael Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance, also stated: "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."
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