The Nursing and Midwifery Council has launched a major consultation on the future of pre-registration education.
The regulator is seeking views on the knowledge and skills nurses of the future will need to practice, with a particular focus on the move to a graduate-only entry profession in England.
The NMC has developed new standards for the development of pre-registration programmes and began the three-month consultation today.
NMC chief executive and registrar, Professor Dickon Weir-Hughes said: “This consultation has to focus on the future. Our work has been affected by major developments in health and social care that aim to meet future health needs in a changing health care system.
“Nurses already bring a wealth of experience to nursing and the delivery of healthcare, and will continue to do so.
“They will become the role models and mentors for new nurses, so will play a vital role in making sure that the new standards, and a new culture of nursing, is implemented successfully.”
Professor Weir-Hughes said: “In the future, as well as providing essential care, nurses must make sure that, whenever possible, people are able to make informed decisions about health choices and the nature of their care.
“People want to know that, if they cannot do things for themselves, someone with the right skills will take care of them and will check the standard of care to make sure their nursing needs are met.
“Nurses will also be leaders of future services, responsible for the standards of care you and your family receive.”
Sue Bernhauser, chair of the Council of Deans of Health, said she strongly welcomed Professor Weir-Hughes’ comments that the consultation must focus on the future.
She said: “The challenges for the NHS in the twenty-first century are much more complex than those of the past. Health care delivery is changing. All healthcare professionals need good levels of knowledge and skills in order to deliver the best patient care. This is essential to the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare delivery.
“These standards must ensure flexibility around programme design, content and structure, with carefully constructed outcomes to respond to local requirements, which allow space for local innovation and build in ‘future proofing’.”
“Changing the way new nurses are educated is key to improving the quality of care and safe services. I want to encourage as many patients, staff and employers to respond to the NMC’s consultation as possible.”