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Have your say on the future of nursing education

Now is the time to have your voice heard on the future of professional education in the community, says Queen's Nursing Institute chief executive Crystal Oldman

Now is the time to have your voice heard on the future of professional education in the community. In April 2021, I wrote about the NMC draft standards for community post-registration education being released imminently for professional and public consultation – and the opportunity this would give to all nurses working in the community to respond. The draft standards have now been published. The consultation closes on 2 August.

The draft standards for Community Specialist Practitioner Qualifications (SPQs) in five diffferent fields are all the same – only core standards, with no specific standards for proficiency for the individual disciplines. Draft standards of proficiency for Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (SCPHN) in three different fields do have core and specific standards to distinguish between them.

The NMC have stated during the consultation process that they only create standards at a high level, which can then be applied to the field of practice – and yet, this is not the case for the three fields of practice for SCPHN. This is hard to reconcile as an argument and in particular against a backdrop of the existing generic standards for SCPHN that have proved to be unsuccessful. Because of this experience, an approach was taken to intentionally develop shared (core) and field specific standards for Health Visiting, School Nursing and Occupational Health Nursing.

The approach for the development of standards for SPQ was significantly different, with what appeared to be an intentional approach at the outset to develop one set of shared standards of proficiency only, unless during the process of engagement field specific standards could be identified. The NMC states that none were found throughout the process, a position which was challenged by 10 community nursing organisations.

Without specific standards, our professional regulatory body is leaving the determination of the standards for each field of practice to universities and employers. Such an approach has not worked in the past for SCPHN, so it is hard to understand why that experience has not informed the development of the new SPQ standards. The purpose of the NMC is to protect the public and the community nursing experts firmly believe that generic standards left to local interpretation and application will not do so.

However, the consultation phase provides all nurses with the opportunity to respond and to have their expert voices heard. The QNI has created templated letters for your individual feedback as well as completing the NMC consultation questionnaire and the letters can be downloaded here: I urge you to respond and to do everything you can to protect the future care of the communities you serve.