The NMC has asked its Council to approve new post-registration standards, which have been updated following concerns they were ‘too generic’ to be applied to some community specialisms.
At a meeting on 26 May, the Council will consider approving the post-registration standards of proficiency for future specialist community public health nurses (SCPHN), community nursing specialist practice qualifications (SPQs) and associated programme standards for the UK.
The NMC said the SPQ standards now make clear that proficiencies must be met within a nurse’s field of practise, in an attempt to address concerns that the draft standards were not field-specific enough. It has also made taking prescribing qualification optional in the SPCPHN standards.
Currently, the NMC has separate SPQ standards for district nursing, general practice nursing, community learning disabilities nursing, community children’s nursing and community mental health nursing. If approved, the new standards would introduce one set of core standards for all.
Addressing ‘generic’ SPQ concerns
A consultation in February, with 2,363 responses – including from nurses, members of the public and organisations – found the draft SPQ standards are ‘largely fit for purpose’, although some concern remained that they are ‘too generic’ to be applied to some community specialisms.
To ‘mitigate’ these concerns, the NMC has ‘adapted the wording’ within the SPQ standards to ‘highlight that proficiencies must be met within a nurse’s intended field of practice’.
The standards also require education providers to develop curricula ‘sufficiently detailed’ to ‘differentiate the evidence base and application for all of the intended fields of practice’, while student learning must be supported by professionals with the relevant expertise, it added.
The new standards will also have independent prescribing qualifications as optional for all community nursing SPQs, the NMC also said.
Compared to the draft standards, they also have ‘strengthened’ aspects including risk and risk management, self-care, patient education and supported self-management, teaching, education and professional development, leadership, autonomy and accountability, it added.
The NMC also said it had also ‘refined’ the SCPHN standards – for example, by making a prescribing qualification optional, as well as ‘strengthening’ aspects around mental health, wellbeing, leading services, managing risk, safeguarding, infant nutrition and cultural competence.
The four chief nursing officers of each UK country are ‘broadly supportive’ of the SCPHN standards and suggested including prescribing in the programmes should be optional at this point, the NMC said.
QNI field-specific standards
Responding to the new standards, Dr Crystal Oldman, QNI chief executive, said the QNI will develop ‘QNI field-specific standards in partnership with all key stakeholders’ including the NMC.
The standards will include the five existing NMC annotations: community children’s nursing, community learning disability nursing, community mental health nursing, district nursing and general practice nursing.
The QNI will also develop field-specific standards for nurses undertaking the SPQ in the fields of adult social care, inclusion health nursing, criminal justice nursing and hospice nursing.
She continued: ‘The QNI and many nurses in our networks have worked closely with the NMC over the last two and a half years to develop the new post-registration standards. We are pleased to see that the standards are ready for consideration by NMC Council.’
Owen Barr, chair of the NMC Community Nursing Standards Delivery group, said: ‘The proposed new community specialist nursing practice standards provide a framework that recognises the higher level of knowledge and skills community nurses with an SPQ need to make complex professional decisions in partnership with people about their support and care.’
Professor Geraldine Walters, executive director of professional practice at the NMC, said: ‘These new co-produced post-registration standards will give professionals the additional knowledge, skills and aptitude they need to provide specialist support and care to people in their homes and in the community.
‘These standards will also help professionals to develop their careers and become the clinical leaders, educators and researchers of the future. Council approval of the standards would mark a significant milestone toward more modern, effective care for people in community settings and improved public health for our wider communities.’
In the same meeting, the Council will also consider whether the NMC should consult on proposed changes to its pre-registration education programme standards – including potentially increasing simulated practice learning and flexibility around the use of simulation.
It will also consider whether to allow the NMC consult on changes to its English language requirements, including whether to accept employer references.
More to follow