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New recruits lack basic skills says trust nursing director


The nursing director of one of the largest trusts in England has called into question education standards around basic nursing care.

Heart of England Foundation Trust director of nursing Mandie Sunderland particularly questioned the ability of newly qualified nurses to produce and understand care plans.

Speaking at the Nursing Times Delivering High Quality Nursing Care conference this month, she told delegates that new nurses were often not familiar with the “fundamental issues of care”.

“We’ve got a real problem as a profession. We’ve got a whole generation of nursing that doesn’t understand care planning,” she said during a presentation on assuring the quality of nursing care.

“We need to look at whether we’ve got the [pre-registration training] model wrong,” she added.

Ms Sunderland highlighted the example of newly qualifieds failing to understand the care pathway for pressure ulcers and, as a result, not calling for the tissue viability team when appropriate.

In order to address the problem, she called on delegates to respond to the NMC consultation on pre-registration training – the second phase of which will take place between January and April 2010 and will include new draft standards for nurse education.


Readers' comments (28)

  • What chance do we have to advance if we don't stop sniping at one another? We should have a healthy respect for each others mode off training/education (call it what you like). That doesn't mean we can't have our opinions, but for goodness sake be professional about it!

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  • I am currently in the first year of my Nursing Degree Programme at University.

    Its sad to hear that thereseems to be culture of blame within the nursing profession, which I am about to embark my future career. If there is a problem with the level of care that is being delivered within the NHS then surely it down to us all to help each to raise the standard, not only through better educating the Student Nurses (either by more effective theroy or better skills training ) but also those in post whose care is falling short of the required level. Working smarter and more efficiently as a team surely will improve care standards.

    If this is a real problem we should work together to solve it.

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  • The problem is there needs to be equalibrium between theory and practice, there is no point a student being abel to produce lovely essays/resarch projects and yet when they arrive on the ward cannot put anything they have research or written into practice. Placements need to be more welcoming of students and mentors having enough time for students. However there are some students who should never be nurses and should be failed if they cannot grasps the concept of nursing also there are some nurses who makes you wonder how they manage to qualify as nurses. These are big problems that needs to be resolve I wish I had the answer

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  • In response to Sandra Odell's comments.

    Correct - the students in those days were a part of the ward and took full responsibility for everything.

    Now, the students only LOOK INTO.

    The mentors have to do their own work (work load) and in addition have to take students.

    Which one would you know? I know that looking after my patient's interest, taking him/her to toilet, preparing him/her to theatres take first priority.

    Perhaps if we had more staff to cope with the MANY CARE PLANS THAT EVERY TOM, DICK AND HARRY IS THROWING AT US NURSES, we might have the time to do the care plans and look after our patients.

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  • Mertha Nyamande RMN

    i agree with the title. I however do not think its the new recruits fault, having been in the profession for about 10 years, i feel that government has lost the general idea of what nursing is all about. the nursing profession is a caring profession, where practitioners have genuine care and regard for those that they are looking after. unfortunately, you can not learn that in any classroom, its got to be from the heart.
    The government however has a different agenda; to make nursing a profession where nurses are too posh to sit by the bedside and "care", but nurse by remote from a distance. This is not nursing, i am not sure what to call it. it certainly isnt what i went into nursing for. there is just too much paperwork now that the nurse becomes more of a clerk. hence why the basic nursing skill is lost.

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  • Martin Gray

    Unlike the vast majority of people that put comments on these threads I'm not afraid to have my name displayed; I am entitled to my opinions and views and have the right to express them freely; I'm not ashamed to do so. We should all believe that we the same rights and not be afraid to express our opinions and views.

    In response to Malcolm Chalks' comment; my interpretation, based on the diversity of other posts on this thread, that 'better academically trained nurse' are perhaps not meeting the standards of the 'old school nurse' and that expected of the nursing profession by the public?

    It's all very interesting and enlightening, but is anyone doing anything to actually resolve this issue and stop all this inter-professional bickering so that we can all agree on what should be the minimum standard of entry??

    Perhaps, instead of dictating, the NMC, and the unions should ballot their membership (and INCLUDE HCAs as they are doing a great deal of the nursing tasks nowadays); hold a referendum; however I'm sure the figures would be 'adjusted' so that the DoH and NMC got the result what they wanted rather than a true result - so perhaps it would prove a pointless but politically correct exercise! Soory but I just don't have faith in such things any longer after the numerous media revelations over the past few years.

    I agree totally with the comments about fair pay and that, perhaps, having students having to go through a university on a paltry bursary to gain the qualification is a surefire way of saving money and protecting certain jobs in both the academic and management eschelons.

    If there are too many types of care plan then reduce them; if they are too complicated then simplify them; if you want to proivide essential/basic care to your patients do so but DON'T use care plans as an excuse not to.

    If you, as a nurse or group of nurses/care staff feel that you are being bogged down to such an extent by paperwork do something positive about it - but make sure you don't break our ethical and moral codes in doing so. We have a duty of care to the patient; is that not what each and every one of us, regardless of academic route, is taught from the very beginning - or is it now students are being told they are going to be ward managers rather than practical-oriented nurses?

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  • Malcolm Chalk BA, RN

    In my experience as a nurse and a patient, I believe the public are very well satisfied with modern educated nurses. To be honest, placements on wards and the 'in school study' side of nursing has not changed since 1910; it's always been 50/50 over 3 years. The fact is that nurses are far better educated now than they were in say 1979. Newly qualified and student nurses work as hard now on the wards and in the community as 'old school' nurses did 50 years ago, and not just care planning, but helping patients manage their medical as much as their social problems. Perhaps some of those making the crticisms should stick their head in a 30+ year old book and read what Patricia Benner said about it then. Any students or newly qualified nurses, Diploma or Degree, should read between the lines of some of these comments - sour grapes. You are all doing a fine job.

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  • Very good comment Martin bray. Absolutely.

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