A forthcoming major review of nurse education and training in England will draw heavily on key patient safety reports from last year, according to those overseeing the work.
Last week the Nursing and Midwifery Council and Health Education England officially announced a review into nurse and healthcare assistant education and training, which is due to begin this month.
Nursing Times first revealed in April that the new review had been commissioned, prompting some commentators to question why it was needed and that it risked duplicating existing work.
“This important review affords us a unique opportunity to look at the complete caring workforce”
In addition, health secretary Jeremy Hunt was subsequently quoted in the Daily Telegraph as saying the work was needed to improve compassion and dignity among NHS staff – leading to strong criticism from nurses via social media.
In a joint statement, published on 6 May, the NMC and HEE stated that the Shape of Care review was intended to ensure nurses and HCA received “consistently high quality education and training which supports patient care throughout their careers”.
They said the review’s final report – due in January 2015 – would make recommendations for improving both current pre- and post-registration nursing, and also HCA education and training. It would bring together the recommendations and evidence from a raft of major reports published in 2013 on care in England, they added.
These will include Robert Francis QC’s influential report on care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, journalist Camilla Cavendish’s short review on HCA training, and the two patient safety investigations by NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh and US expert Professor Don Berwick.
“These reports have highlighted the need for improvements to the education and training of nurses and HCAs,” said the NMC and HEE.
Whilst the review will make recommendations for the reform of nursing and HCA education and training in England, they said it would be “mindful” of the broader UK and European Union context.
It will have an independent chair, Lord Willis of Knaresborough, who will receive expert advice from HEE’s Nursing and Midwifery Advisory Group and Patient’s Advisory Forum.
However, the work will be overseen by a “sponsoring board” that will set its “broad strategic direction”. This will be co-chaired by HEE director of nursing Lisa Bayliss-Pratt and NMC chief executive Jackie Smith.
Professor Bayliss-Pratt said: “Recent major reviews such as Francis, Cavendish, Willis and Berwick have shown that we need to think and act differently. We need to make sure that we bring these all together, rather than working in a piecemeal way.
“The Shape of Caring review aims to do just that… This is very much about building upon what we already have.”
Lord Willis added: “This important review affords us a unique opportunity to look at the complete caring workforce from HCAs to post registration nurses – recognising that excellent patient care requires an integrated, comprehensive and well trained workforce.”