Government nationalises the nursing profession

The government has just announced that nursing will become an all-graduate profession from 2013. I don’t want to go down the route of discussing whether degrees are appropriate for nurses, an issue about which readers of this blog might have strong feelings. The point is, what has this got to do with the government? It might be thought that the government employs all nurses. That is certainly a moot point – NHS trusts are independent employers. But, even if the government were the indirect employer of all nurses, it does not take individual employment decisions. It should be for employers to decide what qualifications their employees have.

Now, it is perfectly legitimate for individual employers (trusts and so on) to say that they want everybody to have a degree, but nursing is supposed to be a profession. There is a Royal College of Nursing that is quite distinct from the nursing trades unions (even if it often behaves like one). As such, normal practice in most areas of professional services would be for employers to say that they want to employ professionally qualified nurses, with the qualifications being determined by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). If the RCN then tries to restrict entry to the profession too much, employers will no doubt try to employ more ancillary staff and fewer nurses, or think about employing different types of staff with different types of qualification. Competing professional bodies might even develop.

But the amazing thing about today’s announcement is that it is warmly welcomed by the RCN. In other words, the RCN warmly welcomes the government nationalising its profession and taking over its duties for determining how nurses become accepted into the profession.

As it happens, I am an actuary. I don’t want to get into debates about the relative academic difficulty of actuarial science versus nursing. Such debates are futile and silly. The point is that the actuarial profession is not a graduate profession, and the government has certainly not decreed it as such. The profession sets its own exams. The actuarial profession would be entitled at any time to require a degree. And employers, of course, are entitled to hire people who are members of the profession, or not, as they please. But the idea that the state should decree that every qualified actuary should qualify by degree is bonkers. The profession may decree that, but, once the state decrees it, the profession no longer exists.

This is another example of ludicrous government induced qualification inflation. In further nationalising the labour market on the front line of patient care, ministers and the Royal College of Nursing will simply end up sucking in tens of thousands more ancillary workers and lowering standards on wards still further. Nurses for Reform wants a vibrant and diverse labour market that will push standards up. Instead of imposing a uniformity of centrally planned rules, that is why NFR campaigns for open markets in nurse training as well as an end to national collective pay bargaining.

I wonder if politics should be a graduate ‘profession’? Should the Home Secretary have a university degree?The fact is most professions are no longer ‘independent’. I remember that in 1973 the government – which was responsible for debasing the currency – set up a committee to look into the question how to account for inflation. This was just after the accounting profession had come up with an approach which the government didn’t like. The terms of reference were fixed to lead to a particular answer and the membership of the twelve-person government committee, of course, was also fixed.No wonder I now have contempt for both the accounting profession and the government.

If this isn’t damning evidence of a dumbing down of degree standards, I don’t know what is.Unless this generation has suddenly got cleverer than previous generations, it simply means that people of a much lower academic ability will take ‘degrees’. By definition, the academic level at which they study will be much lower than was previously necessary to achieve a degree. When I was at school, those going into nursing training were below the level of academic ability required for ‘A’ levels!By all means train nurses (or other occupations) more highly but let’s not pretend that the academic standard is worthy of degree status.

It is about time that Nursing became a graduate profession as the standard of nursing at present is dreadful!

An excellent post and I agree with the above comments that this is another example of the dumbing down of degree standards. Unfortunately, I doubt you will hear many complaints about this from the universities who will be required to teach these new degrees. On the contrary, they will no doubt be falling over themselves to get hold of this new fee income and accept a government determined curriculum into the bargain. Hence, this proposal not only reduces the autonomy of the nursing sector, but the higher education sector also. Another example of how, step by step, freedom is being diminished.

Just on a point of fact, the Royal College of Nursing, like the British Medical Association, is a registered trades union. You are confusing them with the Nursing and Midwifery Council who are the government-dominated excuse for a professional body for the nurses.

I’m doing a nursing degree at the moment and I resent the thought that nursing degrees are “dumbed down”. The entrance requirements are three a levels, ABB. I’m certainly finding it alot harder than the conservation degree I did a few years ago. Degree students don’t necessarily qualify for any NHS bursery, unlike the diploma students who get £7500 a year, as well as help with childcare costs and petrol. This means people from poorer families wont be able to train, which seems pretty crap to me !

Hi all,I want to play Devil’s Advocate, but I understand the frustration. My thing is, how else does the government- who’s role is to protect consumers- make effective policy, outside of setting the “basic” standard?You can make the case that government setting the standard for the professional qualifications are always bad. But, there should be a basic minimum the government can guarantee!Then again, it could be a money grabbing scheme by the government, and college fee’s and acredidation fee’s may see a spike- considering that in this down turn, persons are going back to be re-trained for vocational skills. Yourihttp://globalviewtoday.blogspot.com/

This is another example of ludicrous government induced qualification inflation. In further nationalising the labour market on the front line of patient care, ministers and the Royal College of Nursing will simply end up sucking in tens of thousands more ancillary workers and lowering standards on wards still further. Nurses for Reform wants a vibrant and diverse labour market that will push standards up. Instead of imposing a uniformity of centrally planned rules, that is why NFR campaigns for open markets in nurse training as well as an end to national collective pay bargaining.

I wonder if politics should be a graduate ‘profession’? Should the Home Secretary have a university degree?The fact is most professions are no longer ‘independent’. I remember that in 1973 the government – which was responsible for debasing the currency – set up a committee to look into the question how to account for inflation. This was just after the accounting profession had come up with an approach which the government didn’t like. The terms of reference were fixed to lead to a particular answer and the membership of the twelve-person government committee, of course, was also fixed.No wonder I now have contempt for both the accounting profession and the government.

If this isn’t damning evidence of a dumbing down of degree standards, I don’t know what is.Unless this generation has suddenly got cleverer than previous generations, it simply means that people of a much lower academic ability will take ‘degrees’. By definition, the academic level at which they study will be much lower than was previously necessary to achieve a degree. When I was at school, those going into nursing training were below the level of academic ability required for ‘A’ levels!By all means train nurses (or other occupations) more highly but let’s not pretend that the academic standard is worthy of degree status.

It is about time that Nursing became a graduate profession as the standard of nursing at present is dreadful!

An excellent post and I agree with the above comments that this is another example of the dumbing down of degree standards. Unfortunately, I doubt you will hear many complaints about this from the universities who will be required to teach these new degrees. On the contrary, they will no doubt be falling over themselves to get hold of this new fee income and accept a government determined curriculum into the bargain. Hence, this proposal not only reduces the autonomy of the nursing sector, but the higher education sector also. Another example of how, step by step, freedom is being diminished.

Just on a point of fact, the Royal College of Nursing, like the British Medical Association, is a registered trades union. You are confusing them with the Nursing and Midwifery Council who are the government-dominated excuse for a professional body for the nurses.

I’m doing a nursing degree at the moment and I resent the thought that nursing degrees are “dumbed down”. The entrance requirements are three a levels, ABB. I’m certainly finding it alot harder than the conservation degree I did a few years ago. Degree students don’t necessarily qualify for any NHS bursery, unlike the diploma students who get £7500 a year, as well as help with childcare costs and petrol. This means people from poorer families wont be able to train, which seems pretty crap to me !

Hi all,I want to play Devil’s Advocate, but I understand the frustration. My thing is, how else does the government- who’s role is to protect consumers- make effective policy, outside of setting the “basic” standard?You can make the case that government setting the standard for the professional qualifications are always bad. But, there should be a basic minimum the government can guarantee!Then again, it could be a money grabbing scheme by the government, and college fee’s and acredidation fee’s may see a spike- considering that in this down turn, persons are going back to be re-trained for vocational skills. Yourihttp://globalviewtoday.blogspot.com/

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