'No support' for ending mental health specialism

Mental health nursing should retain its specialty undergraduate course, an independent workforce review has found.

A consultation by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) on nursing competencies and standards has prompted concerns regarding a shift to a single generic nurse registration.

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But a review into the mental health network by the Foundation of Nursing Studies (FoNS) found no support for such a move, which would involve a change in NMC legislation.

Staff preferences

However, the authors of Playing our Part called for the curriculum of mental health nursing courses to be refreshed and more evidence-based, saying too many courses are currently based on staff preferences.

‘The view that graduate mental health nurse registration should be discontinued and made part of a single generic registration has no support from people who use services or from nurses,’ the authors said.

Sustained value

The review, which used social media, discussions and conferences to gather the views of about 600 nurses and service users, also noted concerns from staff about the decline in opportunities to build long-term patient relationships.

‘Our work has confirmed that people who use mental healthcare services greatly value the sustained contact nurses offer,’ the report said. ‘However, the rush to provide session-based psychological intervention services has placed this subtle, but valued relationship under threat.’


Fears about front-line services were raised repeatedly, despite not being the focus of the study. 

‘Debate and arguments on funding and poor service provision featured constantly during the work,’ the report said.

The review called for nurses in all specialties to develop physical and mental health assessment skills so they are equipped to tackle early deaths among people with mental health problems as a result of poor physical health.

A workforce shift is needed to move nurses away from secondary and tertiary care, the review found. Putting more mental health expertise in primary care, the community and schools could help prevent and reduce problems such as the risk of suicide and self-harm among children.

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