Recommendation 189

Common nursing and midwifery qualifications

Accepted in principle
The Nursing and Midwifery Council and other professional and academic bodies should work towards a common qualification assessment /examination.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council is responsible for setting the UK-wide standards for all pre-registration nursing and midwifery education.  These standards underpin all pre-registration nursing and midwifery education so that education programmes are comparable, and all nurses and midwives must meet the same standards.  The Nursing and Midwifery Council set new standards for pre-registration nursing education in 2010. The standards require students to be tested for aptitude in literacy, numeracy and communication skills, and assessed as to health and good character on admission to programmes.  Students must also pass all assessments at every progression point before they complete their programmes, and be assessed for good health and good character as to their fitness for award and fitness to practice. Education programmes are half theory, half practice, and education and training takes place as a partnership between a university and practice environment. Students must meet all theory and all practice requirements to complete a programme, and there is no facility to compensate for poor performance in one area with strong performance in the other.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has committed to undertaking a full evaluation of its new education standards, commencing in 2014, and will have particular regard to issues of caring and compassion.  This will give the Nursing and Midwifery Council an evidence base for any further revisions to these new standards.


The Nursing and Midwifery Council has commenced the evaluation of their standards for pre-registration education for nurses and midwives. Central to the evaluation are questions about the effectiveness of standards in preparing nurses and midwives for their professional roles and responsibilities which include care, compassion and leadership. The Nursing and Midwifery Council is in the final stages of appointing an independent evaluation supplier and they will proactively share any interim findings with Health Education England to tie into the Shape of Caring Review. The Nursing and Midwifery Council’s final report should be available in September 2015.

The outcomes of the evaluation will provide an evidence base for future reviews of their pre-registration standards for education so that they can, where necessary, enhance the UK standards for nurse and midwifery competence and education.