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Fears education proposals will overburden nurses

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Universities are calling for a clear statement on what can realistically be expected of newly qualified nurses, to replace “turgid” draft guidance issued by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

The council of deans has criticised NMC standards on pre-registration nursing, out for consultation until Friday, for overstating the technical skills required by nurses in order to qualify.

Council of Deans chair Sue Bernhauser told Nursing Times: “We expect a lot of nurses on qualification. Other professions like law don’t expect graduates to hit the floor running, but we have an expectation that nurses should and it’s ill founded.”

“The bulk of [the draft standards] should be issued as guidance in developing new programmes for graduate nurses. It’s far too rigid…too turgid.”

She added: “The standards would benefit from having a statement describing what the public can expect from the nurse.”

This would include being treated with respect and dignity and being communicated with effectively.

The draft standards, which include the expectation that all nurses will enter the profession after studying for a degree, are described in 140 pages of detailed guidance.

Nursing Times understands that, contrary to the concerns set out by education providers, NHS Employers have called the standards too “permissive” and want more details on the technical skills that can be expected of newly qualified nurses.

Ms Bernhauser said many of these skills could be learned after qualification. It was better for nurses to receive continuous development instead of having everything crammed into a degree programme, she said.

 “Teaching people lots of technical stuff isn’t very difficult, but we need people who are confident about providing care and are good communicators and understand that patients are partners,” she said.

An NMC spokeswoman said: “We have been working with hundreds of stakeholders, including the Council of Deans, who are part of the project advisor group to develop the new standards for pre-registration nursing education.

“We are continuing to work together to make sure future nurses are fully prepared to provide high quality, safe and effective care across all healthcare environments.”

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