NHS Staff Council's Health, Safety and Wellbeing Partnership Group, NHS Employers. NHS welfare facilities for healthcare staff. 2021. (accessed 7 March 2022)

Queen's Nursing Institute. Workforce standards for the district nursing service. 2022. (accessed 7 March 2022)

Royal College of Nursing. Nursing Workforce Standards. 2021. (accessed 7 March 2022)

New workforce standards for district nursing launched

02 April 2022
Volume 27 · Issue 4


The Queen's Nursing Institute has published workforce standards for district nursing services in the UK. The standards are intended to provide top-level guidance to commissioners, service planners and managers about the key considerations when deciding on the number of staff, skill mix, and workload management tools needed to provide healthcare in the community setting. The standards are intended to support the evidence base around the number of suitably qualified and experienced district nurses needed to provide a service to a given population. The standards include ‘red flags’ that indicate when a service is at increased risk of deferring care due to lack of staff capacity.

The Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI) has announced the publication of new workforce standards for district nursing (QNI, 2022). These were developed by the QNI's International Community Nursing Observatory (ICNO) over the past 18 months, led by its director, Alison Leary, and were based on modelling using data from several sources, including activity analysis (2015-2021), NHS benchmarking data, qualitative data on perceptions of workloads and a literature review. The findings were contextualised using data from an analysis of Prevention of Future Deaths reports in England and Wales (2016-2019), which focused on recurrent concerns from coroners, the most common of which were missed, delayed or uncoordinated care, lack of care planning and elements of the nursing process.

The standards should be read alongside the Royal College of Nursing's Workforce Standards (2021) and the NHS Staff Council document Welfare Facilities for Healthcare Staff (2021).

This new document sets safety standards for the district nursing workforce in the UK, setting out areas of risk and giving examples of major ‘red flags’ that require escalation. Leary commented:

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