It was a privilege to be asked to provide evidence to the Willis Commission. There are three key things which need action following the report Quality with Compassion: the future of nursing education. These are: a sustainable funding model; a career pathway for nurses; and student placements in general practice.
The report stresses the importance of providing students with good practice learning environments. This requires a solid infrastructure and resourcing. While recognising medical training is more costly, there remains a huge disparity in funding levels between medicine and nursing.
General practice receives a placement tariff of several hundred pounds a week for medical students and relies on 'good will' for student nurses. There has been discussion about £93 fee for nurses, but I am not aware of any funded placements in general practice. The report recommends sustainable funding model to support education and training and equitably resourced.
It also highlights another important issue for nursing, the lack of a career structure. In the past, nurses knew how to progress through the nursing hierarchy and what training might support their progress up the ladder. There were three pathways, clinical, management or education.
The demise of ENB courses and NMC-recordable qualifications and lack of HCA and ANP regulation have left nurses dependent on local training, rather than nationally-recognised courses which are more transferable. Doctors' career framework has identified training steps which makes it easier to secure planned funding. Having a career pathway will be vital, if nurses are to get a fair slice of educational funding from Local Education and Training Boards.
The Willis report recognised the need for students to gain greater experience in health and wellness. Experience in general practice will be vital as more care is delivered outside of hospitals. There will need to be considerable investment to provide all students with well-funded and mentored placements in general practice.