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RCN welcomes major step forward for learning disability nursing across the UK

The Royal College of Nursing has welcomed a new report that sets out the challenges and work required to ensure there are enough specialised nurses to provide good quality nursing for people with learning disabilities.

Posted: 26 April 2012

RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary Dr Peter Carter said that people with learning disabilities are regularly being let down because of a lack of specialist learning disability nurses on the ground. He acknowledged there are a number of reasons for this but warned that the number of specialist nurses is in serious decline.

“The problem is being compounded by the older age of many learning disability nurses which means that they are approaching retirement, and an ongoing trend of cuts to the number of learning disability nursing student places available in universities across the UK,” he said.

The RCN has highlighted the growing number of learning disability nurses moving from the NHS to work in social care and the independent sector. The RCN says these staff, along with their counterparts in the NHS, will need ongoing support and development to maintain their skills.

“It is essential that people working in hospitals, in the community and other services such as prison health care have access to the specialist skills of learning disability nurses,” added Dr Carter.

Michael Brown, Chair of the RCN Learning Disability Nursing Forum, said the forum has worked to highlight the problems RCN members face.

“Today’s report addresses all of our priorities and we now look forward to working together to improve nursing services for people with learning disabilities,” he said.

The RCN has urged the four UK governments to work together on a comprehensive plan to ensure that people with learning disabilities are provided with the nursing care they deserve.

25 April 2012