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NT talks to Education for Health's Monica Fletcher on how to argue the case for training

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Monica Fletcher, chief executive of Education for Health, talks to NT about the launch of an eight-point plan designed to help nurses win their case in accessing education and training.

NT: Why did you produce the plan and how was it drawn up?

MF: The organisation was 20 years old last year and we were trying to look at things as part of our celebrations, so we returned to a study we did 12 years previous and thought we would do it again to look what had changed.

Our gut feeling was that nurses were more involved in primary care but we wanted to look at what those roles were and what training they were being given to carry them out.

We knew it would show that practice nurses were carrying out more work, in more advanced levels, but we did not expect the results to show such a shocking lack of training.

After looking at the results, there were a few things that we thought we should be thinking about, and one that we should be helping nurses put a case to their practice manager or their PCT to be able to say “it is not just training for training sake and this is how it fits into the NHS priorities”, and because nurses are not often very good at negotiation and we wanted to give them the armoury to do so.

The plan is based on the experience of the organisation and we also have practicing clinicians that are out in the field involved in clinical practice. You can put everything you want to achieve into the plan and relate it back to NHS practice and to their area of work, the areas that are important for the government and their local area.

NT: Why does Education for Health think this is important?

MF: The nurses were just not been given adequate training to carry out the work they were being asked to do. They are working at such an advanced level and this is not just about a bit or training here or there, they need to have access to more structured programmes of work that give them the skills they need and practice safely.

As NT has highlighted with the Time Out For Training Campaign, training is essential for nurses but they do not all have equal access to it for a variety of reasons, and like NT, we want to be able to try and do something about this.

NT: Has anything else been drawn up as a result of the survey?

MF: Yes, we have also produced 7,000 posters which can be displayed in GP surgeries, which show a patient’s charter. It is part of our drive to improve long term conditions in primary care, and tells patients what they should expect from their practice.

As part of this we are asking all primary care nurses to display their certificates of accredited education in their consulting room. If this becomes the norm then employers will have to provide training because patients will expect to see that their nurse has been given the training. So in the end it will benefit everyone, the employer, the nurses and the patient.

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