Figures released to the Welsh Liberal Democrat AM for South Wales West, Peter Black, show a decline in the number of District Nurses in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend, whilst at the same time the number of clients dependent on their services has increased by nearly one fifth.
In Bridgend the number of qualified district nurses fell from 69.64 whole time equivalents in 2008 to 67.47 by April 2011. Over the same period the number of clients being cared for by the service rose from 4592 to 5435.
In Neath Port Talbot qualified staff went from 74.49 WTE to 67.08, with the client base increasing from 3195 to 4418. Whilst Swansea’s qualified whole time equivalent staff dropped from 94.981 to 86.481. Their client base remained relatively steady, rising slightly from 3127 in 2008 to 3427 in 2010.
Commenting on the figures, Mr. Black said: “Despite the fact that ABMU Health Board have said that they are investing in community services and changing the skill mix of staff so as to meet demand, these figures still show a significant increase in workload for District Nurses and the Health Care Workers who work with them.
“At a time when the Welsh NHS is seeking to get people out of hospital and provide more care for patients in their own homes, these trends are very worrying. My concern is that these increased workloads will take their toll on the health of District Nursing staff and increase stress levels.
I am certainly supportive of the move towards more community medicine and patient independence where appropriate, but we have to have confidence that there is sufficient investment in the relevant services and support staff so as to deliver that safely. I hope that ABMU can give those assurances.”