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Don’t abolish Specialist Practitioner Qualification, says report author

NMC’s review of training might put qualification under threat, says Agnes Fanning

NMC’s review of training might put qualification under threat, says Agnes Fanning


Picture: iStock

Any attempt to abolish the Specialist Practitioner Qualification (SPQ) must be challenged, the author of a study on district nursing has urged.

An SPQ is a post-graduate diploma or degree course, approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), that nurses can undertake to improve their specialist clinical skills and judgement. Upon completion, the course is noted on the register as an SPQ. 

The NMC approves the courses in relation to one of nine specialisms, including district nursing.

However, the regulator is about to begin a review of post-registration training standards, which includes assessing the value of the SPQ.

Promoting the ‘added value’ of the Specialist Practitioner Qualification

Agnes Fanning, author of a research project on outstanding models of district nursing, undertaken by the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) and the RCN, said the profession had to fight any attempt by the NMC to abandon the qualification.

Dr Fanning told the QNI conference in London this week that her research project found the SPQ gave nurses ‘added value’.

‘It gives the nurses an umbrella overview, leadership qualities and an understanding of the direction to go,’ she said.

Some organisations provide alternative training

But Dr Fanning added that some areas of the UK were providing in-house training instead of allowing nurses to undertake an SPQ.

‘They send district nurses on a course on management or leadership or palliative care, but it isn’t joined-up and only serves their [local] population, so that’s a problem if the nurse moves to another area,’ she said. 

During questions at the conference, Dr Fanning was asked what she would do if the NMC’s review concluded that the SPQ must be abolished.  

‘It’s important that we fight the case for district nurses – we are too good a service to be forgotten,’ she replied.

Review of post-registration training standards

Responding to the comments, NMC director of education and standards Geraldine Walters said that guaranteeing nurses could deliver high-quality care would be a key part of its review.

Dr Walters added: ‘This review will be carried out collaboratively with key stakeholders – such as unions, chief nurses and the QNI – across the UK.’

As of January 2018, there were 23,657 nurses and/or midwives who had an SPQ annotation on the register, according to NMC statistics.


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