The government has announced a new review of nurses' training that will have a potentially significant impact on NHS nursing recruitment policies in future.
To be spearheaded by Health Education England and the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the Shape of Caring review will be carried out by Lord Willis of Knaresborough and will examine the education and training of all nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants across all stages of their careers.
A key priority of this review is to ensure that NHS employers will find it easier to recruit nurses who have the "right values" to take the health service forward, with an emphasis on personal responsibility and accountability, as well as encouraging staff to speak out when they see examples of poor practice.
The changes to the system will also include an emphasis on recruiting older nurses from other careers, rather than exclusively focusing on recent graduates aged 18 to 21. The aim of this is to ensure that older people are able to pursue nursing as a second career later in life, ensuring a more diverse workforce.
Findings from the review are due to be published in February next year and will inform future government policy. Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, has welcomed the news, suggesting this will help to raise standards within the sector and make sure the needs of patients are always put first.
This comes at a time when the Department of Health is implementing a number of changes in response to the recent Francis Inquiry, which highlighted systemic failings that took place at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust and issued recommendations on how to avoid their repetition in future.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "The NHS is already rising to the challenge - post-Francis, we have 2,400 more nurses on our wards, greater transparency and compassionate care replacing tick-box targets.
"This new review will bring together experts from across the health sector to help train the next generation of nurses and midwives."
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