50 nurses bid for care roles
SCORES of district nurses have put their names forward to help bail North Staffordshire's community health services out of a growing crisis.
Within days of the publication of adverts to fill 70 new posts, 50 have sent in their applications.
The jobs are being paid for from £5 million set aside by funding bodies for extra care to keep patients out of hospital.
The cash was made available after consultants found staff shortages and growing demands had left services so stretched patients could be put at risk.
Their report also revealed fears of an exodus of district nurses who are so stressed out by increasing paperwork.
After the jobs were advertised in the profession's publications, candidates from all over England started to apply to the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership NHS Trust which runs the service.
Trust nursing director Siobhan Heafield said: "We have been very encouraged by the response. A range of nursing staff will be recruited with roles depending on the specific skills needed for particular communities."
The trust is the biggest in the country to run both community NHS services and social care, previously the responsibility of the county council.
Officials say close working has been key to the vacancies attracting so much interest in a field where there are national shortages.
Now a number of recruitment days will be staged over coming weeks to give applicants the chance to learn about the integrated care. Interviews will be after Easter.
District nurses visit patients just discharged from hospital and are seen as vital in reducing reliance on hospital beds.
Despite the investment, family doctors warn there is under-funding of other community services locally.
Newcastle GP Dr Paul Scott, chairman of North Staffordshire Local Medical Committee, said: "We have chronic under-investment in primary care by all national measures. District nursing is the worst example but it is only one example.
"This needs to stay on our agenda permanently until the satisfactory standard is being provided for our patients."
And Dr Latif Hussain, a direct of North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group added: "We are trying to move as much care as we can out of hospital but resources are not following demand.
"We have to be assured we have a safe district nursing service so we would urge the public to tell us of any problems they experience."