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Preceptorships remain at whim of trusts

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Mentoring periods for newly qualified nurses are to remain non-mandatory.

Alongside the all-graduate entry announcement last week, the Department of Health published a national framework for one-year preceptorships for newly qualified nurses.

Chief nursing officer for England Dame Christine Beasley said: “Degree-level nurse education will be supported by a national framework for preceptorship which will ensure that new nurses have the support they need to make the transition to confident practitioner.”

However, despite such schemes being recommended in 2006’s Modernising Nursing Careers and again last year in the NHS next stage review, the government has held back from insisting that trusts implement preceptorships in its new framework.

According to the CNO, the framework is intended to encourage more trusts to offer preceptorships but is not a “top-down” order to do so.

The government made a commitment to triple funding for preceptorship schemes in the next stage review, with £10m added to strategic health authority training budgets in 2008-09 and £20m in 2009-10 - though the government has previously admitted this was insufficient to pay for all new nurses to have a preceptorship (news, page 3, July 2008).

A spokeswoman for the CNO’s office told Nursing Times last week that SHAs were allocating the funding in different ways. She said: “Some were simply distributing them to trusts according to their head count of newly qualified nurses, but others were targeting funds at specific areas they wanted to prioritise.”

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