Minister expects investment in tech to help “invisible service” work on the move

(Title Image: CommunityNurse6 via Twitter)

Yesterday, AMs discussed the Health Committee’s report on district nursing – summarised here.

The invisible service

Chair of the Committee, Dr Dai Lloyd AM (Plaid, South Wales West), set out the importance of district and community nursing as some aspects of healthcare switch from a hospital setting to community and home-based setting. District nurses were struggling to meet the demands placed upon them.

One of the main issues raised in the report was district nurses’ inability to access appropriate IT to undertake their roles on the move. It was “unacceptable” that nurses had limited access to patient information, appointments and e-mails.

Shadow Health Minister, Angela Burns AM (Con, Carms. W. & S. Pembs.), described district and community nurses as “unsung heroes” and “the invisible service” noting her disappointment at lack of data about staffing numbers and skills sets amongst community nursing teams.

Helen Mary Jones AM (Plaid, Mid & West Wales) believed community-based services deserved the same levels of respect as hospital-based services.

She criticised the Health Minister’s decision to reject a recommendation that the Safe Nursing Levels Act 2016 should be extended to cover district nursing – she accepted that it may take longer than the Committee asked for, but to “suggest it’s not necessary is a real matter of concern”. This was echoed by Caroline Jones AM (BXP, South Wales West).

Nurses will soon “catch up with normal life”

Health Minister, Vaughan Gething (Lab, Cardiff S. & Penarth), accepted some of the challenges in recruiting and retaining nurses, but one area which could see progress soon is the IT issue.

“….the Welsh Government is working with all health boards in supporting investment in modern devices. I meet district nurses in my constituency and around the country and they do describe some of the frustrations that some Members have referred to….We committed in ‘A Healthier Wales’ to significantly increase investment in digital as a key enabler of change, and that is supported by an increasing emphasis on common national standards across digital devices and applications.”
– Health Minister, Vaughan Gething

The Minister further explained that the recommendation on extending the Safe Nursing Levels Act was rejected because the situation regarding district nurses was, for now, too complicated to produce a strategy for – but he didn’t rule it out, with early work underway on developing that strategy. Health boards also have an overarching responsibility to ensure safe nursing levels “in all settings where care is provided or commissioned”.

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