The Willis Commission on nursing education has recently reported. Led by the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Willis, the report notes that by September 2013 only degree-level pre-registration programmes will be offered to prospective nurses. An important element of the report is the role that universities play in nursing education, and how that role can be developed. The report calls on employers, universities, regulatory bodies and royal colleges to “recognise, fund, promote and support nurses’ continuing professional development at appropriate and equitable levels as an investment for the future”.

The report also comments that “Research must not be seen as an optional extra for the sake of a graduate programme. To encourage this vital part of the education process, greater attention must be paid to the next generation of nursing academics and facilitating their work in both academic and clinical settings.”

Other key aspects of the report include:

  • “Patient centred care should be at the heart of all pre-registration nursing education and continuing professional development.
  • There were no shortcomings found in nursing education that could be directly responsible for poor standards of care or a decline in care standards.
  • Nurses and their organisations must stand up to be counted on the challenge of poor care and loss of public confidence in order to restore professional pride.
  • Nursing education needs to imbed patient safety and dignity as a top priority.
  • Better evaluation of and research into nursing education programmes is necessary to ensure a programme that is fit for purpose.
  • The future nursing workforce requires nurses to work in a variety of settings.
  • Recruitment campaigns need to widen their diversity in order to encourage the widest, best possible range of applicants.
  • Health care service providers must fully support nursing education.
  • Universities need to recognise nursing as a practice and research discipline.
  • Attention needs to be paid to developing a strategic understanding of the nursing workforce as a whole and as a UK-wide resource.”