Nursing education is to be overhauled to increase the role of trusts and ensure that students qualify with more practical skills.

The review, set up by the UK Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting, has recommended early and longer clinical placements and at least three months' supervised hands-on experience towards the end of courses.

Responsibility for student recruitment and selection is to be shared by trusts and universities, which will work in partnership to achieve the shift to competency-based education. Trusts will be asked to make an 'explicit resource commitment' to support and assess students on clinical placements.

The UKCC's Education Commission, which considered evidence from 450 organisations, also decided to make courses more flexible and widen the entry gate to attract a wider range of recruits.

NHS Confederation policy manager Alastair Henderson welcomed the commission's recommendations. 'From an employer's point of view there was a need for a more practical bent, certainly towards the end of nursing education.'

Central Nottinghamshire Healthcare trust nursing director Granville Daniels said: 'People have great difficulty adapting to the service. Much closer working between higher education establishments and trusts is required.'

Royal College of Nursing general secretary Christine Hancock said the findings showed that nurse education was in need of 'urgent maintenance work'. She said: 'The challenge now is for those who employ nurses and those who educate them to get together and set in motion the report's recommendations.'

Fitness for Practice

See comment, page 17.