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1. Questions around standards and compassion in nursing have been prominent as a result of the Mid Staffordshire foundation trust public inquiry, the publication of the Department of Health’s nursing strategy, the inquiry by the Willis Commission and the publication of critical reports by the Commission on Dignity in care for Older People and Age UK.

2. In 2007 the Nursing and Midwifery Council began a consultation process on the future of pre-registration nursing. This resulted in a new set of standards being published in 2010, but in 2007 the NMC consultation reported that the public want nurses who will:

  • deliver high quality, safe, essential care to everyone and more complex care in their own field of practice;
  • practise in a compassionate, respectful way, maintaining dignity and wellbeing, and communicating effectively;
  • protect their safety and promote their wellbeing; be responsible and accountable for safe, person-centred, evidence based practice;
  • act with professionalism and integrity, and work within agreed professional, ethical and legal frameworks and processes to maintain and improve standards.

3. In 2008 it was decided by the NMC that the minimum level for
pre-registration nursing would be a bachelor degree. This will be implemented in England from September 2013. In Scotland all pre-registration education moved to degree level in 2011 and this has been the case in Wales since 2004. In England approximately 85% of nursing students currently obtain a diploma rather than a degree.

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