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Nurse training 'too academic' says Cameron

The Conservatives would make nurses’ training more ‘relevant’ to the realities of working on busy wards, party leader David Cameron has said in a live webcast.

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Answering questions submitted online by members of the public at an event on Friday, he said training needed to reflect real life.

He said there was “too much over-academicised training and not enough hands on training, not relevant to what they were doing on the ward.

“We need to look at that and make sure training experiences are relevant.”

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley, who was also in attendance, added that nurses deserved the same levels of structured training as doctors.

He said: “Nurses quite understandably look at the professional education of junior doctors in the way in which it’s organised for them and the career paths…and feel they don’t get that sense of being helped through their career path.

“They have to fashion it for themselves and we have to make sure that if they’re looking for a career path we help them through that. Some hospitals are extremely good at doing that, others aren’t.”

Readers' comments (35)

  • Nooooooooooo. Being educated is interesting! Well, I've enjoyed it anyway...

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  • Sorry Mr Cameron but I don't agree. I haven't worked on a ward for over 20years, I work in General Practice which is the real 'front line'. My considerable experience and knowledge is backed up by my degree level qualifications and education. I work Autonomously making decisions which are backed up by my level of education.

    What goes on on a busy ward has very little relevance to me. What goes on in Primary care, prevention/education/treatment/advice is just as important and relevant to Nurse Education, (training is for dogs), as are all the other branches of Nursing where Nurses are increasingly taking over the roles previously done by Doctors. Nurses need and want to be highly educated to be the best that they can be.

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  • How patronizing of Mr Cameron to suggest that nurses do not need degree level preparation. Nurses require a high degree of knowledge in order to function as professional care givers at clinical level and equally as importantly within preventive care.

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  • Does he not know that we spend just as much time on placement as we do at university?

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  • How very Florence Nightingale! As a Nursing Studies Honors Degree student I feel this play for popularity insulting and demeaning to not only my fellow student nurses of any level of qualification, but also to nurses in general. Shall we simply return to the days of Doctor's Handmaidens? Surely someone like Mr. Cameron can see the abundant benefits of Nurse Education? To be fair, the amount of debate over the move to nursing being a degree only profession and the resultant 'in-fighting' has no doubt provided the pathway for Mr. Cameron's comments. Although I find his comments largely insulting to the profession, have we brought this on ourselves?

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  • Hang on, what about all us nurses/students who are practically minded? I would much rather have a choice of learning 'on the job', or at uni.

    I would much rather learn 70% on the wards. I don't see how writing essays is going to help me nurse someone in a psychotic episode.

    He's got a point. Making nursing a purely degree profession, which if I'm not mistaken, most people on here are against, would alienate a lot of people who would make good nurses. But are not academically minded.

    Most of my training has been vocational. That doesn't mean I'm an idiot, it just means I don't learn in that way. And a choice needs to be given again. Sitting through three hour lectures on circadian rhythms is not going to help when I'm trying to run a ward.

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  • most of us student nurses have to work as health care support workers in order to supplement our bursary, whilst completing the offending academic work (and working full time on placement) so don't worry mr cameron we get more hands on experience than you may think. not much time for a social life with all that going on though:(

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  • working as a support worker is supplementry- it is not part of the course and you are doing a differrent role.
    if what you say is true- why do we still have new staff nurses going before the NMC for fitness to practice. i have to work with people- not all- a minority who can tell me all the posh words and the "science" but not be able to explain this to a patient or put the skill into action. whilst this is a minority- it only takes these few to make serious mistakes and lose public respect for all nurses.

    i agree Nurse do need to be educated- but i also agree we will lose alot- like me who did not have the confidence to do the academic work- but with a profession and practical experience- confidence builds and then move onto a degree- make it part of ongoing competency but lets get those in with practical but not academic confidence.

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  • Another example of a politician using nursing as a 'political football' to score points coming up to an election. I have read all the cooments and all have some credence, but lets be honest an Eton 'old boy' WOULD like nurses to return to the 'handmaiden' days, as that would provide smug satisfaction for all his cronies, (and I am male!) Whatever the argument is let us NURSES actually decide (as the NMC already have anyway) what kind of education we need. I wonder how some of these pontificating idiots would feel if I told them how I think THEY need to be educated? How about they should have hands on experience before they take on such different roles as Head of MOD then Health or Chancellor/Prime Minister? What a load of rubbish - I hope the electorate are not taken in by any of the rhetoric.

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  • wether or not the nurse training is too academic or not is irrelevant, this is just another ploy to win votes in the election. All politicians are full of rubbish!!

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  • Have the Conservatives made a U turn?? I am also concerned that their maths skills require scruitinising (re: Family/Work tax credits). Will public sector cuts eventually be forced on the NHS, and nurse training?? Will there be a repeat of the previous tory administration, that because of the poor state of the NHS, there will be a shortage of students, in turn recruiting overseas nurses??

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  • Perhaps he will give nurses the chance to study at Eton eh?

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  • where is his policy to bring all us good educated to degree level nurses pay in line with all other services why do we always get the rough end of the deal.... and why do we put up with it, i have not heard anything positive for nurses from any of the parties

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  • Very patronising indeed Mr Cameron. That pretty much sums up what he thinks of nurses and the nursing profession. But then again, and sadly, he has support in the nursing profession itself.

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  • Well done to Mr Cameron, if his aim is to lose votes and discredit himself and his party! He clearly has no appreciation of current and future health care needs and needs to research his topic prior to speaking in public. Healthcare in 2010 is highly specialised and requires appropriately skilled staff to deliver the direct and indirect care that the public deserve and request.
    Complaints about healthcare can be traced back to a lack of knowledge and incompetence which nurse training (pre registration and post registration) aims to rectify. Current training requires students to spend equal amounts of time in practice as well as on academia.

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  • I would disagree with above comment most complaints are about lack of communication and compassion. I think being educated to degree level is a good thing, but of no use if nurses do not have a) common sense b) good interpersonal skills and c) compassion and empathy. Most users of the service want a smiling, confident, competent, empathatic and knowledgable individual. Not all these skills can be taught siccessfully at University some are part of a persons personality and life's experience.

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  • Another one in power who does not understand nursing. Mr. Cameron, you don't have a clue.

    The universities give the students a heck of a lot of hours working on the wards.

    The working environments on the ward are so bad that the student just joins her mentor running around like a headless chicken and not learning anything.

    Even if we go back to hospital training for nurses their placements will still be terrible learning experiences because of the horrific and criminal situation on the wards and lack of trained and experienced staff (intentional short staffing and deskilling of nursing by management).

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  • I need to defend Mr Cameron's position on this. Nurses today are more interested in status and degree level qualifications that they have lost sight of what the job is all about i.e patient care!

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  • well all I can say is bring back the Enrolled Nurse,who was trained to look after patients,feed them wash them,report on any changes in the patient to the nurse in charge.The EN was the back bone of the ward,and did most duties which were over seen by the nurse in charge of the ward.I was an En but progressed, and now I am a nurse partner with First Contact Skills.The EN could be used throughout secondary and primary care and be a usefull employee and care giver.Bring back the SEN.

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  • Jeff,

    If they bring back the enrolled nurse what will happen is this: They will leave her alone as the only nurse on a 30 bed ward with only aa couple of care assistants and cadets each shift. This is what they do to the RN's. This is why care is terrible. It's not because RN's don't want to do the work. The EN will be put in the same situation.

    Care will continue to suffer until management realises that they need to staff the ward with nurses.

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