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Government unconvinced by advanced nurse regulation


Should advanced practitioners be regulated?

The government has said it is unconvinced there is a “compelling case” for regulating advanced nurse practitioners, despite strong calls from nursing leaders.

The Department of Health’s stance, published in a document last week, quashes a central recommendation of the Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery.

In its final report last year the commission – set up under the previous government – said regulation of nurses carrying out increasingly complex procedures would help protect the public.

But the DH document said: “Measures such as advanced practice registers… have some professional support but…a compelling case for further regulatory action has yet to be made.”

In adds that the government would not support regulators “taking on any new responsibilities or roles which add to the costs to their existing registrants without providing robust evidence of significant additional protection or benefits to the public”.

The DH paper also confirms the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence will be renamed the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care, and will accredit a system of voluntary registers – potentially including healthcare assistants.

CHRE chief executive Harry Cayton said: “I don’t see any reason to [statutorily] regulate advanced practice. Job titles are certainly confusing for patients but I don’t see how we could regulate [what] people…call themselves.”

But Dave Barton, head of nursing at Swansea University and a national council member of the Association of Advanced Nursing Practice Educators, said more “robust” oversight was needed.

In the absence of regulation, he said the Nursing and Midwifery Council should provide stronger guidance and routinely assess the portfolios of advanced nurses.

As expected, the DH document says moves to create a statutory register for healthcare assistants will also be discouraged (news, page 5, 1 February). It calls on regulators to cut costs as far as possible and says the DH will view “sympathetically” proposals for them to merge.

If agreed by parliament, many of the changes will take effect from 2012.

An NMC spokeswoman said the regulator was reviewing the content of the paper with “great interest”.


Should advanced practitioners be regulated?

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Readers' comments (3)


    CHRE chief executive Harry Cayton states there is no reason to regulate Advanced Practice. As an advanced clinician working in a Gp practice I totally disagree. I have spent over ten year studying academically and continue to do so to enable me to work as I do in practice. It annoys me greatly that nurses or anyone else can call themselves an advanced practitioner with no set academic requisite or register to safegaurd patients.

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  • nurses who are confident in the service they provide to patients do not need to hide behind a mask of a fancy title. those who are self employed could all invent titles for themselves and produce them on business cards but this only impresses an unenlighted few. nurses are nurses no more, no less otherwise there are other careers such as medicine to choose from.

    Academic qualifications have to fit the employment market. there is little use going out getting higher qualifications unless they fit needs. nurses have to fit the job they cannot expect a job to fit their requirements. there are far too many who do not seem to understand this and this is what causes so much conflict with pay, images, etc.

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  • To pick up on this thread months later, I am really excited that the NMC are advertising for an Advanced and Specialist Practice Adviser
    - maybe, maybe the regulation for advanced practice,that is overdue will now go ahead.

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