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NHS: Community Services

Volume 685: debated on Monday 9 October 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

To what extent the policy followed by some primary care trusts of reducing numbers of district nurses and health visitors supports the objectives set out in Our health, our care, our community: investing in the future of community hospitals and services.[HL7148]

How services for people with long-term medical conditions or injuries will continue to be provided in their own homes following the reduction by some primary care trusts in the numbers of district nurses and health visitors.[HL7149]

To what extent the policy followed by some primary care trusts of reducing numbers of district nurses, health visitors and midwives supports their policy objectives of reducing waiting times, increasing care provided in the community and preventing ill health.[HL7150]

District nurses, health visitors and community midwives have a key role in delivering government policy objectives. It is for primary care trusts (PCTs) in partnership with strategic health authorities and other local stakeholders to ensure that there are sufficient staff to provide the primary care services needed by their local communities. This includes decisions about workforce numbers, grade and skill mix. This process provides the means for addressing local health care needs within the community.

Our health, our care, our say requires PCTs to work with their local community and staff to develop new approaches to meeting people’s healthcare needs. The expectation is for PCTs to enhance investment in community services and staff. Since 1997, there has been an increase of 37 per cent in the number of nurses working in the community.

Many National Health Service organisations are reviewing and rationalising the way in which they work to ensure that they are fit for purpose, and this includes considering the number of staff whom they employ and how they are best used.