Review fever

Just what we need: another review of nurse education. Yesterday the Nursing Times carried this item reporting a joint Health Education England and Nursing and Midwifery Council plan to investigate standards. The NT says:

Health Education England and the Nursing and Midwifery Council will launch the review in May to specifically investigate the standard of education provided to around 60,000 nursing and midwifery students each year.

The Shape of Caring Review, which will be led by Lord Willis of Knaresborough, will also consider the standard of post-registration training for the NHS nurses once they have qualified. The review is due to produce a final report by early next year.

It follows concerns over the standard of nurse training raised by the Francis report into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

As part of its work, the review will examine the controversial pre-nursing experience pilots that have seen around 160 students work as healthcare assistants for a year before starting courses, and which were a key plank of the government’s initial response to the Francis report.

This is the same Lord Willis who chaired the RCN’s review of nursing education which reported in 2012, and about which I wrote a piece on this site here. As I wrote then, there was some scepticism on the timing given that universities and their partners in the NHS were in the throes of reshaping their pre-registration curricula following the publication in 2010 of new NMC standards for pre-registration education. This latest review is going to start before more than a handful of new, post-2010, nurses have registered and certainly before we know anything of the impact of these new regulatory standards on practice. This is exactly a point the NT goes on to make:

But Professor Ieuan Ellis, chair of the Council of Deans of Health, said he was concerned the review would duplicate work already underway by “multiple different projects and working groups”.

“This group needs to reflect on the reviews that have already happened, some quite recently – otherwise there will be a lot of duplication going on,” he added.

Jackie Kelly, head of nursing at the University of Hertfordshire, pointed out that the NMC had already imposed new standards for pre-registration courses in 2010, and stressed 50% of nursing students time was spent in a clinical setting away from the classroom.

She said: “We have already gone a long way and I wouldn’t want the review to move in a direction of travel before we have seen the output from the new standards agreed in 2010.”

Quite so.

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