The country’s first national training framework for district and practice nurses is being drawn up in a bid to improve workforce planning and boost treatment in settings outside of hospitals.
In its framework, Health Education England will set out requirements for trainee district nurses and practice nurses, as well as the continuing professional development that existing registrants should receive.
The body – which is responsible nationally for workforce planning – said it would lay out career pathways for both types of nurses and the education standards needed to progress, as well as education commissioning service specifications. HEE said the framework would ensure nurses have the right set of “skills and flexibilities” to deliver new models of care in the future.
Board papers from a recent NHS England meeting explained that the framework would be produced alongside “recommendations to address staffing levels” for district nurses and practice nurses. “This will support staff in the community to deliver treatment in primary care settings as an alternative to A&E,” said the board papers.
“We will be giving clinical commissioning groups and medical leads what they have asked for – a framework with the skills people recognise nationally are the ones we need [for community nurses]”
However, Keith Willett, NHS England’s national director for acute episodes of care, recently told MPs that it was down to local providers to decide exact staffing numbers.
At a recent health select committee meeting, he said: “We will be giving clinical commissioning groups and medical leads what they have asked for – a framework that says these are the sort of skills people recognise nationally are the ones we need and the education framework for the nursing staff to be developed to. Then we can take that and apply it in a bespoke way to match our local services.”
The Queen’s Nursing Institute said the framework would help to support the models of care laid out in NHS England’s new five-year plan – the Five Year Forward View – which are focused on more care being delivered outside hospitals.
“The HEE focus in these two areas could not have come at a better time,” said QNI chief executive Crystal Oldman.
“The Five Year Forward View is proposing new service models, which will require nurses working in the community and primary care settings to take a central role,” she said.
Dr Oldman said the framework would provide an “explicit articulation” of the “exciting career pathways available” so that students choose community as a first destination on qualifying, and hospital-based nurses consider how their skills can be transferred into a more autonomous role the community.”
HEE is due to publish its final recommendations on the framework in the autumn.
As part of its work to develop skills within the community workforce, earlier this week NHS England announced a £10m investment programme which will see nurses and doctors given more training opportunities.