NMC outlines proposals to modernise community and public health nursing standards

Published on 08 April 2021

Today, we launched a consultation on new draft education standards that build on ambitions for community and public health nursing in the UK.

The standards, for specialist community public health nursing (SCPHN) and specialist practice qualifications (SPQs), will equip the next generation of community and public health nurses working in health and social care with the right proficiencies to care for people in a rapidly changing world.

Community and public health nurses have successfully adapted to huge challenges dur-ing the pandemic, providing vital high quality care and support to our communities during a time of great need.

These essential education standards were last updated over 15 years ago. But we need fit for purpose standards that reflect the realities of modern nursing in health and social care now. The draft standards are designed to support the innovation in practice that is already happening across the four countries of the UK. They are also flexible enough to take account of future ambitions for care which will develop as our communities evolve and grow.

The standards set out the knowledge and skills needed to gain post-registration qualifi-cations. They also cover what we expect from education institutions and practice learning partners delivering the education and training. This will allow the development of new and innovative courses, helping improve learning and increase access.

We have worked in collaboration with people receiving care, nurses, educators, students and employers to co-create the draft standards using the best available evi-dence. We are grateful for their expert input and support for this consultation.

This work has been overseen by Dr David Foster OBE and an independent steering group. The group includes a wide range of organisations and individuals with an interest in shaping the proposals for this work.

Professor Geraldine Walters CBE, Executive Director of Professional Practice for the NMC, said:

“Community and public health nursing has never been more important. We want these new standards to reflect the realities of modern community and public health nursing and equip professionals with the right skills for the future.

“Due to the challenges and pressures of the pandemic over the past 12 months, we’re 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 con-tribute in a variety of ways.

“This is the time for you to tell us what you think and to help shape the proposals by letting us know what needs to be added, taken away, or changed.

“We’re grateful to everyone who has shared their views so far, and we want to hear from even more people during the consultation. This will help us support the community and public health nurses of the future along with the millions who will need their care.”

Over the course of the next 16 weeks, there will be a range of ways for people to get in-volved and share their views on the proposals. We will be hosting virtual drop-in sessions to facilitate conversations alongside webinars and virtual panel events. Find out how to get involved here.

Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England, said:

“This consultation has significant implications for nursing and midwifery colleagues right across health and social care. Please read and respond to ensure you have a voice in shaping post-registration standards for the future of our professions.”

Professor Charlotte McArdle, Chief Nursing Officer for Northern Ireland, said:

“I would like to take this opportunity to ask all Specialist Community Public Health Nurses (SCPHN) and community nurses to engage and become involved with the consultation of the review of the NMC SCPHN and Specialist Practice Qualification (SPQ) standards. It is your chance not only to create and shape the future of your profession, but to ensure that the standards deliver the best possible outcomes for our people and our communities. Please take the next step, let your voice be heard and engage in the consultation to in-fluence the way forward for your profession.”

Professor Amanda Croft, Chief Nursing Officer for Scotland, said:

“Scotland has a strong public health agenda, and an ambitious transforming roles pro-gramme for post-registration nursing. There has never been a more important time to have the best qualified nurses, and for the public to be protected. The NMC is reviewing its post-registration standards and this is the chance to ensure Scotland’s voice is heard. Please make some time to make your contribution.”

Gareth Howells, Interim Chief Nursing Officer for Wales, said:

“As the professional roles of nurses and midwives continue to evolve and expand to meet the health and wellbeing needs of the population and the demands of health services, it is essential that views are sought on the future requirements of the professions. The NMC is currently reviewing the standards of proficiency and the associated programme stand-ards for these roles. This is to ensure practitioners are equipped with the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to deliver high quality care now and in the future. Through the consultation the NMC want to hear from a wide range of people’s views on the new draft standards to ensure all voices are heard and that a collaborative consultation pro-cess takes place. Do take the time to get involved and make sure your voice is heard.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said:

“Community nurses are highly skilled and do an incredible job providing care and advice to those in need, including supporting them to remain living in their own homes.

“It is important we bring post-registration qualifications up to date to better reflect and recognise the skills and care standards required today, and in the future, from our spe-cialist nurses. We encourage staff and interested organisations to share their views with the Nursing and Midwifery Council by 2 August.”

Notes to editors

You can read further supportive stakeholder reactions here.

For further media enquiries, please contact the NMC press office on 0207 681 5894 or email media@nmc-uk.org

Background information

Responses to the consultation will be analysed by an independent research organisation before further development work takes place. Our Council will then be presented with a final version of the standards for approval.

What are post-registration qualifications?

Once registered with the NMC, nurses or midwives may undertake further education or training. Some of these qualifications are regulated by the NMC, and these are recorded on the NMC register. For example, some will choose to become a SCPHN, and work as a health visitor, occupational health nurse or school nurse while others may gain an SPQ, which gives them extra knowledge and skills to support and care for people in their own homes or in the community.

The standards will lead to entry to the SCPHN part of the register for health visitors, oc-cupational health nurses and school nurses, or to annotation in one of six separate fields of community practice for professionals who have a SPQ.

Members of the steering group

The post-registration standards steering group is chaired by Dr David Foster OBE and includes a range of key stakeholders from across the four countries of the UK, which in-cludes representatives from:

  • Council of Deans of Health
  • Brent Sickle Cell & Thalassaemia Centre, London
  • Chief Nursing Officer's office, NHS England and Improvement
  • Chief Nursing Officer’s office, Department of Health, Northern Ireland
  • Chief Nursing Officer's office, Scottish Government
  • Chief Nursing Officer's office, Welsh Government
  • Faculty of Occupational Health Nursing
  • Health Education and Improvement Wales
  • Health Education England
  • Institute of Health Visiting
  • London South Bank University
  • National School of Occupational Health
  • NHS Education for Scotland
  • NHS Wales
  • Northern Ireland Practice and Education Council for Nurses and
  • Midwives
  • Public Health England
  • Public Health Northern Ireland
  • Public Health Wales
  • Queen's Nursing Institute
  • Queen's Nursing Institute Scotland
  • Royal College of Midwives
  • Royal College of Nursing
  • School and Public Health Nursing Association
  • Skills for Care
  • Unite
  • University of Derby

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