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NMC to split consultation on major nurse education overhaul

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The Nursing and Midwifery Council has agreed to launch a consultation on new standards for nurse education, based on draft plans published last week.

But the regulator has said that two of its major proposals – to withdraw its medicines management standards and to introduce a number of changes to prescribing – will now be consulted on separately.

According to the NMC, this decision was due to the large amount of information the regulator was seeking views on and concerns among its council that just one consultation would be less accessible for people wanting to take part.

The decision was made at an NMC council meeting in Cardiff on Wednesday, where the proposals were discussed.

The NMC confirmed to Nursing Times that it expected to launch its first consultation in mid June, covering its draft standards for nurse proficiencies and a draft education framework for universities.

A second consultation on standards for medicines management and prescribing will be launched shortly afterwards, it said.

As reported by Nursing Times last week, some of the major revisions to education that the NMC is proposing include introducing elements of prescribing theory into pre-registration education.

Such a move would allow nurses to go on to train for an independent prescribing qualification within just one year of graduating, instead of the current three.

In addition, it has proposed that the standards should be aligned with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s single competency framework for all prescribers.

Meanwhile, the NMC wants to remove its medicines management standards – last updated in 2007 – after it was told they could be a “barrier to more contemporary medicines optimisation approaches”.

Other proposed changes to pre-registration training include increasing the maximum number of practice hours spent in simulation, from 300 to 1,150 – which could mean students spend less time on placements.

Mentoring would also change significantly, with students being able to be supervised by any registered health or social care professional, regardless of whether they were a nurse or not.

But the student’s practice would be assessed by “a nominated practice assessor” and also a “nominated academic assessor”, who would be required to be a registered nurse or midwife. But they would not need to have completed a set course – as is the current standard for sign-off mentors.

The standards also require nurses to be proficient in a number of technical skills, such as nasal tube insertion, injection of intravenous drugs and insertion of catheters – regardless of their chosen field.

In a previous exclusive interview with Nursing Times, the NMC’s director of nursing and midwifery education, standards and policy, Dr Geraldine Walters, said the new education requirements would “raise the bar” of practice in the future.

All universities are expected to run new courses in line with the updated standards by September 2019, although some may be given the option to begin a year earlier.

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