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Bursaries are essential for an all-graduate profession

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It comes as no surprise that of the limited number of frontline nurses who responded to the NMC consultation on pre-registration training, over-two thirds opposed moving to an all-graduate profession.

The result from nursing bodies was equally unsurprising, with the vast majority giving the move the thumbs up.

The fact is that the consultation results are all but irrelevant. The Department of Health has shifted its view over the past five years and is in favour of an all-graduate profession and Scotland and Wales are already educating their nurses to degree level, with the latter seeing an increase in English students because of its favourable bursary terms.

It is crucial for the future of the profession that nurses are trained to degree level.

Focus now needs to turn to the practicalities to make an all-graduate nursing profession a reality.

First we will need some major changes to the way in which higher education institutions are staffed to ensure we have the right capacity in the right place to introduce more graduate nursing courses.

And then there is the issue of funding. It is more likely that the lack of bursaries for degree courses will deter nurses than the fact they have to study for three years. The DH needs to find a way of ensuring that all degree students receive a non-means tested bursary like their colleagues in Wales – only then will all-graduate profession become a reality.

Older people must receive quality care

New research shows that older people often receive poorer primary care compared with younger people (p7).

The reason is clear. The quality and outcomes framework (QOF) has failed older people by excluding them from the incentive payments given to GPs.

There have been complaints about the way in which the QOF has been operating, not least the lack of reward to practice nurses. Now is the time for a review.

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