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Thousands sign petition to protect children’s nursing in less than a week

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A petition started last Thursday as an “11th hour” attempt to “save” the children’s nursing degree course has already been signed by over 11,000 people.

The move forms part of a push-back from those in the field of children’s nursing and other specialties against the perceived threat of a move to a more “generic” model for nurse education.

“We must act before we lose our child and young peoples’ nurses”

Orla McAlinden

Orla McAlinden, a children and young people’s nursing educator, set up the petition to “save the children’s nurse degree course” on the parliament website on 9 February.

Urging people to sign up, she said: “Moves are afoot to make nursing a generic pathway – getting rid of children’s nursing, despite clear evidence of its worth.

“Our children need and deserve appropriately skilled/educated children’s nurses, not generic nurses (adult) with some limited experience and knowledge,” said Ms McAlinden.

“It’s our 11th hour,” she said. “Please sign this petition for the retention of a ‘children’s nursing’ degree. Your children deserve it and need it.

“Our children are our future. They have the right to optimised to health and wellbeing both physical and mental, from 0-25 years of age,” she said.

She added: “Time is running out, we must act before we lose our child and young peoples’ nurses.”

The petition follows a major review on nurse education, which recommended in 2015 that there should be a move towards more generic nursing degrees.

The Shape of Caring review suggested students should receive two years of general training before specialising in a particular area, such as children’s nursing in the third year of their degree.

In the wake of the review, the Nursing and Midwifery Council is currently reviewing standards for nurse education, with proposals due to be published for consultation later this year.

As revealed by Nursing Times last year, children’s nurses have warned the plans to move towards more generic nursing degrees “would be the death knell for the children’s nursing qualification”.

Members of Children and Young People Nurse Academics UK – a group of children’s nursing academics set up to give a stronger voice to the area in policy-making – fear a move to more generic nursing education risks the children’s field of practice becoming no more than an “add-on”.

Similar warnings about the possible dilution of mental health as a specialty have been made by experts from that field, as reported by Nursing Times.

Reaching the 10,000 signature milestone means ministers must respond in writing to the petition on children’s nursing education on the parliament website.

If it goes on to subsequently pass 100,000 names, it could force a debate in Westminster, as happened recently with one on pay for nurses and other Agenda for Change staff.

Visit the parliament website to sign the petition on children’s nursing degrees or to read more about it.

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