The chair of the review of nursing and care standards announced by the prime minister has said it should address staffing issues and not “beat up” professionals.
The Department of Health has confirmed the nursing quality forum chair will be Sally Brearley, who trained as a nurse and is a leading member of the patient and public involvement movement. She is also lay member of the DH’s national quality board.
The DH said members of the new group are due to be appointed in coming weeks and it is hoped terms of reference will be confirmed at a first meeting in late February.
Nursing Times understands a decision is yet to be made about whether it will focus only on nursing and particularly hospitals – or whether it could have a wider remit and be described as the “nursing and care forum”.
Ms Brearley said the group’s terms were not yet confirmed but she believed it could not avoid staffing issues.
She said: “We will need to look at issues like education, staff numbers and skill mix and how nurses are supported. Those are the basics. We should not tinker around the edges.”
Ms Brearley said the review would begin by reviewing other findings on the issue, including from the Prime Minister’s Commission on Nursing and Midwifery, which was set up by Gordon Brown and reported in 2010. She said it should also involve as many front line staff as possible.
She added: “I would like to think we are not going to revisit the debate about whether nurses should have degrees. I believe degrees for nurses are a very good thing, although we do need a workforce with people with diverse background and skills.
“[The review] is not about beating nurses up about delivering poor care and saying they shouldn’t have degrees. What message does that send to our young people and students to say that people with a degree can’t care?”