NMC agrees to develop new pre-registration nurse education standards

The Nursing and Midwifery Council will hold a 'fundamental review' of the skills and competencies nurses will require in the future

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) will develop new standards for pre-registration nurse education, it was announced today. 

The decision to embark on a fundamental review of the skills and competencies required of future nurses was agreed today at a meeting of the NMC's council, with a programme of work due to start in March. 

It follows interim findings from a review of NMC standards for pre-registration education which found that they are no longer fit for purpose and need updating. 

The NMC commissioned the evaluation, which was carried out by University of Southampton professor and former nurse Dame Jill Macleod Clark.

It follows a commitment the NMC made in their response to the Francis report. 

In his final report on poor care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, inquiry chair Sir Robert Francis said the NMC needed to be more proactive, and look at education and competencies for nurses and midwives in a more focused way. 

‘This is a seismic shift in nurse education,’ NMC chief executive Jackie Smith said today.

She added: ‘Our statutory responsibility is for education, and we need to be on the front foot and leading in this area. It is imperative that we do it in the interests of public protection and patient safety, and make sure that we have standards in place that meet the needs of patients.’ 

The current pre-registration nursing education standards were published in 2010.

But the NMC has been told by nurses, nursing students, nurse educators and patients that nurses need to be equipped to be team leaders, to coordinate and delegate high quality care, and to be able to promote better public health. 

‘The nature of nursing work is changing fast,’ said Ms Smith.

‘With more care being given in the community and patients presenting with a range of complex conditions, nurses are facing increased challenges in the workplace. 

‘To meet these challenges, they will need to be prepared with a different set of skills and competencies, focusing on areas such as high quality cross sector care, people management skills and public health promotion - and it is essential that our pre-registration education standards cater for these.’ 

NMC chair Dame Janet Finch said: ‘We are seeing through some of the commitments we made in our strategic plan to rebalance the focus of the organisation. We want to move away from such heavy emphasis on fitness to practice and towards the other things that are so important to all registrants, and those who are going to be registrants in the future. 

‘The work we are now initiating on education is part of that. It is one step in the aspiration that we set out in our strategic plan to become a dynamic regulator, making sure that our approach to regulation keeps up with the way in which the external environment in which registrants work is changing.’ 


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