The current NMC standards for specialist practice in district nursing, which lead to a recordable qualification in district nursing and other community specialist qualifications, were published in 1994.
Clearly, practice has changed significantly in this time: university programme providers will have worked with their provider organisations to ensure their programmes of preparation not only meet the NMC standards but also reflect current expectations of the district nurse specialist practitioner.
However, with the rising profile of the district nursing service in meeting the new NHS agenda of more care being delivered in the home, the QNI and the QNI Scotland thought there was a pressing need to articulate the expectations of contemporary district nurses about their expert clinical and leadership position in practice.
The QNI and QNIS have been working in partnership for the last year on developing voluntary standards for district nurse practice and education, to enhance the existing NMC standards. The intention has been to work with key stakeholders and their constituents in developing standards that reflect the expectation of the district nurse team leader – and also to 'future proof', as far as this is possible, reflecting practice changes anticipated in the next five years.
There has been excellent engagement with the project and there is now an opportunity to comment on the draft standards, which are due to be published in September 2015.
Over the last year, many general practice nurses (GPNs) have asked whether it would be possible to replicate this work for their specialist area of practice. Like district nursing, the NMC standards for GPN specialist practice were published in 1994. GPN work has changed beyond all recognition in the last two decades.
The recent work of Health Education England, NHS England, PHE and the DH has focused much attention on supporting the development of GPNs – with a HEE career framework and educational specification due to be published later this year.
I am delighted that we will be creating voluntary standards for GPN education and practice to enhance the NMC specialist practice standards, starting in the autumn this year. There will be plenty of opportunity for all key stakeholders to be involved in the process and more information will be available soon.
Crystal Oldman, chief executive, Queen's Nursing Institute