Plans to require nurse leaders to obtain a degree by 2020 may be dropped, Nursing Times understands.
The proposal was included in the Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery in England report, published in March.
However, there is now doubt whether the proposal will be implemented at all. That follows concerns the change would penalise experienced senior nurses without degrees, and be irrelevant to those with highly specialist skills.
NHS Employers deputy head of employment services Caroline Waterfield said that trusts were not being told to implement the recommendation.
She said: “Individual organisations will need to make their minds up as to which qualifications their nurses should have.”
Council of Deans of Health chair Sue Bernhauser said: “Some commissioners were very concerned about making it an absolute requirement because there are people in these jobs who can’t be required to have degrees.”
She said 60 per cent of nurses did not have degrees, although this would gradually decrease after the requirement for all newly qualified nurses to have a degree came into effect from 2013.
The Department of Health would not confirm whether a decision had been taken, saying it would respond to the commission’s recommendations “in due course”.
For nurses not wanting to undertake undergraduate studies, changes in Nursing and Midwifery Council rules due to be published on Thursday will allow learning acquired while practising to count for up to half of a nursing degree programme.
The new standards for preregistration training have been developed through a consultation with 5,000 people.
Until now, “prior learning” has only counted towards the maximum of a third of a degree.
However, NMC documents being discussed at Thursday’s council meeting state that in most cases, prior learning will make up a smaller proportion of nursing degrees than the new maximum of 50 per cent.
All preregistration nursing programmes must meet the new NMC standards by September 2013.
The standards will be published alongside guidance, which includes a section on mentoring following concerns, uncovered by Nursing Times, that mentors often feel unable to fail poorly performing students.
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