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The Future of Nursing

City News spoke to Lord Willis of Knaresborough about the future of nursing ahead of his talk


As the nursing and the health sectors continues to evolve, the questions around the future of nursing continue to be debated, including important discussions around what role nurses should play.

Lord WillisPublished in March 2015, the ‘Shape of Caring Review’ - which was led by Lord Willis of Knaresborough - focused on how the NHS can ensure that the education and training of registered nurses and care assistants is fit for purpose to support the delivery of high quality care over the next 10 to 15 years.

As a result, it made a series of recommendations for the future for the future education and training of nurses and care assistants. This included how patient centred care should be at the heart of all pre-registration nursing education and continuing professional development and that recruitment campaigns need to widen their diversity in order to encourage the widest, best possible range of applicants.

To find out more about what the future of nursing holds ahead of his talk at City, University of London next week, City News spoke to Lord Willis of Knaresborough.

CN: How did you get involved in nursing education and in particular the committee which you headed?

LK: My background is in education having taught in the secondary state sector for 34 years – 20 as Head of large inner city comprehensives. On entering the House of Commons in 1997 I was appointed as the Higher Education spokesperson to deal with the legislation over student fees, student loans etc and from 1999 until 2005 was the Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Skills. I then chaired the Science and Technology Select Committee and headed major inquiries into Stem Cell Technology, Human admix Hybrid Embryos, as well as other work on engineering, marine science and space science.

I continued my interest in research, science and evidence based policy when appointed to the House of Lords in 2010 and was asked by the RCN to head up an inquiry into nurse education and training at a time when there was huge criticism of the quality of new UK nurse registrants. My Report ‘Quality with Compassion: the future of nursing education’ was well received but received little traction largely due to the highly contentious legislation Health and Care Act that was making its way through parliament. I was therefore delighted when the newly formed Health Education England asked me to lead their long term review into the future of nursing and care – which resulted in the ‘Shape of Caring Report’ accepted by government and now being implemented by Health Education England, Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Royal College of Nursing.

CN: What will you be speaking about in your lecture?

LK: What I hope to cover are three key area: one, why there is a need for radical change in the way our nursing and care workforce is recruited trained and deployed; two, the key recommendations of the Shape of caring Report; and three, current progress on the implementation of the Report and how it will shape the future.

CN: In your opinion, what is the future of nursing?

LK: There has never been a better time to enter the nursing profession! A bold but true challenge to your students. At last nurses are seen as the key to a modern 21st century health care system but only if they are prepared to rise to the challenge of increased knowledge and skill, increased autonomy, leadership, advocacy and delegation.

CN: Following on from that, are there any key things that we need to change to ensure that we are able to provide a nursing workforce fit for future health and social care services in the UK?

LK: The key to realising the ambition I have for nursing is the establishment of a recognisable career framework that is based on multi point entry, progression by knowledge and competence, recognition of the need for continual engagement with learning, skill acquisition and research and above all a belief that patient care and patient safety are the most important criteria when judging the quality of our nursing standards.

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