The Shape of Caring Review, chaired by Lord Willis, has said that high quality education for nurses and healthcare assistants is crucial to support future workforce development.
The report, published on 12 March, states that a skilled primary and community care workforce will be increasingly important, as the focus of care shifts away from hospital. It suggests that the NMC consider the 'four fields' model of nursing education, and consider adding a fifth specialism in primary and community care. The suitability of the 'four fields' model has previously been quested by the Council of Deans of Health.
The report notes that there is an uneven geographic distribution of primary and community services, despite growth in both workforces. It notes that while the practice nursing workforce has increased by 20% since 2005, it has only grown in real terms by 1.6% in England since 2013. Similarly, while the community workforce has grown by 30% since 2005, a large proportion of this has been district nursing staff moving into registered community roles.
The review urges the NHS to focus on the developing the practice, community and district nurse workforce. To do this, it recommends that pathways into the profession should be improved as more care is shifted from hospitals and into primary and community care, along with widening access to nursing for care assistants who wish to enter the field. The report also called for HEE to make the funding of ongoing education and career pathway qualifications for nurses more transparent.
Lord Willis said: 'There are 1.3 million care assistants and half a million registered nurses in England: it is vital to invest in this essential workforce. In the future, patients and the public will have more complex clinical needs and higher expectations than ever before. The education and training of nurses and care assistants need to reflect the changing care environment, and equip them to deliver high-quality care.'
The report also identifies that healthcare assistants provide as much as 60% of hands on-care, but, according the report, face barriers to training and personal development. The report recommends that HEE should implement training standards for care assistants in both health and social care, and work with employers to ensure these standards are met. HEE has also been asked to create a care role to act as a bridge between healthcare assistants and nursing.
The review contains 34 recommendations to improve the education and training of nurses and healthcare assistants over 8 broad themes such as assuring high-quality ongoing learning for nurses, developing a flexible model of education, and valuing the healthcare assistant role. Some of the recommendations are HEE commissioning research to identify the best ways to engage with the public, the implementation of the higher care certificate, and the development of a 'passport' of standardised skills for nurses wishing to progress in their career.
Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, director of nursing at HEE, said: '[The report] rightly highlights some of the best practices on the frontline but also shines a light on the variations in education and training that staff receive. HEE is already engaged in key areas of work which are relevant to the review including the development of a care certificate; pre-degree care experience and development of higher apprenticeship routes into pre-registration nursing.'