Lord Willis of Knaresborough to chair Education Commission

Published: 25 April 2012

A UK-wide commission looking at the pre-registration education of nurses is to be independently chaired by Lord Willis of Knaresborough, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), announced today (25 April). The Commission will be hosted by the RCN and will look at the form and content of education and preparation needed to provide a nursing workforce that is fit for future health and social care services in the UK.

The work of the Commission comes as the RCN considers how the profession can meet future healthcare challenges. Alongside Lord Willis, there will be a panel of independent commissioners.

Commenting on his appointment as Chair of the Commission, Lord Willis said:

“I am delighted to be able to chair this Commission and look forward to producing a set of recommendations that provide the impetus for real change. Nursing is a demanding, yet rewarding profession – it asks a lot of its workers and in this country we are privileged to have such a dedicated and committed workforce. It is absolutely imperative that nurses are provided with the right education and skills to equip them for the role. I hope that through identifying areas of best practice and sharing information, the Commission will be able to say what excellent nurse education should look like and how it should be delivered. Nursing is also an incredibly self aware profession, constantly striving to improve and give patients the best possible care.  Therefore I am very pleased that the RCN has asked me to undertake this important piece of work and admire the honesty with which they have approached the matter.”

The Commission, announced today, comes as nurse education moves to becoming degree-led by 2013, which reflects the increasing complexity of the present nursing role. The Commission will call for evidence over the coming months around the following topics:

• The key features of excellent nurse education, practice preparation and supervision
• How to assist policy makers in determining the right financial and human resources for nurse education
• How to support those responsible for practice placements and developing appropriate standards for pre-registration supervision and post registration preceptorship
• How to promote a positive image of nurse education and preparation for practice

Commenting on today’s announcement, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, Dr Peter Carter, said:

“People are living longer, but not necessarily healthier lives. It is vital that we have a nursing workforce that is able to meet these complex healthcare challenges. However, nursing has recently come under increasing scrutiny from various sources, some of which have questioned the compassion and dedication of the profession. We know that the vast majority of nurses deliver excellent levels of care and with patient satisfaction levels at 92 per cent the NHS has much to be proud of. However, rather than refuse to accept that there may be issues in some areas, the RCN is undertaking this piece of work to support the future nursing workforce to be the best it can possibly be. Key to this is a sense of professional duty and pride felt by the RCN and its members.”

The Commission will call for evidence over the coming months and is expected to produce a final report by the end of the year. As part of the process, nursing students will have an opportunity to give evidence and share their views and experience of their education so far.

Notes for Editors

1. The Commission on Nurse Education will consider the following question: “What are the defining features of excellent education and practice preparation and supervision for those working towards registration that will provide a nursing workforce fit for future health and social care services in the UK?”

2. For further information, please contact the RCN Media Office on 020 7647 3633, press.office@rcn.org.uk or visit  www.rcn.org.uk/nurseedcommission

3. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is the voice of nursing across the UK and is the largest professional union of nursing staff in the world. The RCN promotes the interest of nurses and patients on a wide range of issues and helps shape healthcare policy by working closely with the UK Government and other national and international institutions, trade unions, professional bodies and voluntary organizations.