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NMC releases proposals to modernise community and public health nursing education standards

The standards, which provide guidelines for almost 725 000 nurses and midwives in the UK, were last updated 15 years ago and it is hoped they can be improved through the input of a variety of healthcare professionals

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has proposed to update the standards of education, aiming for them to reflect the realities of modern nursing practice. These standards set out the level of expertise needed for community public health nursing (SCPHN) and specialist practice qualifications (SPQs).

The standards, which provide guidelines for almost 725,000 nurses and midwives in the UK, were last updated 15 years ago and it is hoped they can be improved through the input of a variety of healthcare professionals.

Currently working with draft standards that have been established through the collaboration of the NMC with people receiving care, nurses, educators, students and employers, the NMC are hoping that when they are updated, educational institutions will be able to develop new courses to further improve nurseslearning.

However, with the current environment the pandemic has evoked, the NMC has recognised the hardships that nurses have had to endure and overcome over the year, so they have extended this process. Nevertheless, they are still stressing the importance of healthcare professionalscooperation with updating the standards.

Due to the challenges and pressures of the pandemic over the past 12 months, were extending the consultation period to four months and are ensuring there are a range of accessible opportunities so that as many people as possible can contribute in a variety of ways,said Professor Geraldine Walters CBE, Executive Director of Professional Practice for the NMC.

Despite this extension, the School and Public Health Nurses Association (SAPHNA) have argued that this consultation should be further delayed as the issue of nursesphysical and mental health needs to be considered.

Our workforce is exhausted and, although the NMC have given some additional time, thisis still not the time to go out to consultation. As a minimum, it should be delayed until the mass vaccination programme is near completion. Many staff are working additional hours, in new ways, under mass pressure from stark increases in child protection and mental health issues, to say nothing of staff sickness, bereavement and more,said Sharon White, the CEO of SAPHNA.

SAPHNA also agree with the necessity to modernise the education standards and are aware of the invaluable contributions their workforce will make.

However, they must have the time, head-space and respect to apply their diligent informed feedback and views. The NMC argues that they have received a significant amount of feedback already; given the drafts produced we would disagree and strongly suggest that this is not representative of what the workforce needs nor wants. We have a duty to get this right and will work hard, when time and space permits,’ said Ms White.

The NMC has announced a number of ways for healthcare professionals to participate with the consultation, including virtual drop-in sessions, webinars and virtual panel events.

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