Is the children's nursing degree about to be scrapped?

Nursing Children and Young People editorial by Christine Walker.
Degree in the bin

A petition has been launched to save the children’s nursing degree programme. So far the petition is doing well enough to prompt a response from the government, but not well enough to trigger a parliamentary debate. The concern that has led to the petition stems from the Shape of Caring review, which was published after questions were raised about the standards of nurse training following the scandal at Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust. 

The review, which was commissioned by Health Education England and the Nursing and Midwifery Council, recommends doing away with the four fields of practice and making nursing degrees more generic, with two years of general training followed by one year of specialisation and one of preceptorship.

This idea worries many children’s nurses and children’s nurse academics, who fear that training of nurses who care for children will become diluted. It also comes at a time when the doctors' organisation the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health is warning that the UK has fallen behind some other European countries in key areas of health. As a result, the health of children and young people, particularly those from deprived backgrounds, is at risk. 

One way to deal with this issue is to ensure staff are trained and equipped to meet the needs of children and their families. There have been calls for more GPs to be trained in paediatrics, so the time is right to speak up for nurses and the vital contribution you make to maintaining and improving children’s health.

The petition was launched by Orla McAlinden from Northern Ireland, who is an editorial advisory board member of this journal, and is supported by Children and Young People Nurse Academics UK. The NMC is consulting on the review and there has been no announcement yet but, after much lobbying in favour of retaining the child health undergraduate degree, campaigners are still worried that the degree as it stands will disappear.

  • Read and sign the petition here