Only those registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council should be allowed to call themselves nurses according to draft recommendations from the Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery seen by Nursing Times.
Nursing Times understands the Commission will call on the NMC to take “urgent steps” to address public safety concerns and confusion over nurses’ roles.
For the first time, “nurse” would become a protected title, meaning that many of those working in areas such as private sector child or elderly care could no longer continue to call themselves ‘nurses’ if they did not possess NMC registration. This move could be accompanied by the standardisation of nurse job titles.
The commission also recommends advanced and specialist nurses are required to regularly provide evidence of their continuing “advanced” competencies to the NMC. That recommendation appears to hand a clear mandate to the NMC to introduce specific revalidation requirements for advanced nurses.
Additionally the commission says healthcare support workers should be regulated – a move seen as essential as NHS organisations employ more non-registered staff, particularly assistant practitioners at band 4.
However, the commission stops short of saying which regulator should do this – an omission that led to one source close to the commission to fear the question had been “kicked into the long grass”.
The report reiterates the rationale for turning nursing into a graduate-only entry profession by 2013.
Although commissioners have been wary of tacitly devaluing or undermining nurses without degrees, it recommends that a degree should be a requirement for any nurses taking on a clinical leadership or specialist practice role by 2020.
Nursing Times has been told that will include ward sisters and charge nurses, but commissioners have been keen to argue the recommendation merely reflects the current trajectory rather than a punitive “cap” on the career ladder of nurses without degrees.
The Commission’s full report – which is in final drafting stage – is expected to say that rather than being regarded as “subordinate” members of the healthcare team, nurses should assert their status as “interdependent equals” who are complementary, rather than subordinate, to doctors.
The Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery
- New pledge for all nurses and midwives stating their commitment and accountability for high quality and continuously improving care
- Protection for the title “nurse”: only those registered by the NMC should be able to call themselves “nurses”
- Regulation of specialist and advanced practice nurses by the NMC. Consideration should also be given to requiring the same of specialist midwives.
- Support workers – including healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners - to be regulated
- Degree a requirement for all clinical leadership and specialist roles by 2020
- Boost to ward sister and charge nurse role and upward review of their pay and grades
- Framework of national nursing indicators to be developed to measure nurse quality and its impact on patient outcomes and satisfaction
- Nurses to act as “role models” for healthy living – their employers should help them do this
- Career structures and training that allow nurses and midwives to move between different healthcare settings, such as hospitals, community services and social care
- Scheme to identify, train and mentor future generation of nurse leaders, ripe for “fast track” into posts
- High level group to review options for boosting capacity of nurses to understand and influence the design of new technology and informatics
- Everyone woman to have a named midwife responsible for coordinating her care
- Scheme and fellowship awards to encourage innovating in nursing services
- Marketing campaign to “paint an appealing picture” of nurse careers and opportunities and to recruit the highest calibre, diverse candidates