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Specialties at risk from pre-reg plan

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Plans to make pre-registration training more general could harm mental health and learning disabilities nursing, a government-commissioned study has warned.

Generic training is one of a number of possibilities that is being considered by the NMC consultation on pre-registration training, which closes on 8 February.

But an international review, commissioned by the Department of Health to inform the consultation, warns that deficiencies in the preparation of nurses in these two specialties could be exacerbated by generic training.

The review looked at models in 16 countries and found that scrapping the current common core and branch model may not be advantageous.

‘International evidence indicates that the move from a specialist to a generic form of pre-registration education is perceived as having deleterious consequences for mental health nursing,’ the report by the National Nursing Research Unit (NNRU) at Kings College London says.

‘Learning disability nursing, like mental health nursing, gradually gets squeezed out of the curriculum by the demands of education for people to be competent general nurses,’ it adds.

Report author Peter Griffiths, director of the NNRU, said that while there were some problems with the current system there would be significant challenges to ‘mental health and learning disabilities’ if a generic approach was adopted.

The report also found that problems over recruitment and retention in both specialties were likely to increase with the introduction of generic training.

Peter Atkinson, vice chairperson of the Unison national nursing committee, said that the possibility of a one-size-fits-all approach was of ‘huge concern’.
‘This document goes a long way to flagging up the need for separate mental health nurse training, albeit within the current structure of nurse training,’ he added.

RCN learning disability adviser Annie Norman said that the specialist branches should be retained but with a strengthening of core training in these areas as well.

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