‘Degrees are about complex care, not elitism’, says nursing director

The new nursing director at St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust in south west London has backed controversial proposals requiring all new nurses to have degrees.

Alison Robertson stressed that degrees were more about addressing the complexity of care rather than creating elitism.

Mrs Robertson made her comments at a one-day conference on the “healthcare workforce of tomorrow” organised by the Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences, where she was the keynote speaker.

She defended the move for all new nurses in England to hold a degree-level qualification to enter the profession from 2013.

Currently only about a quarter of nursing students take degrees, the rest study for two-year diplomas.

However, critics have complained that the change will restrict entry to the profession and put academic study above practical work and compassion. But Ms Robertson said: “To my mind graduate entry by 2013 is the right step. Scotland and Wales have already done this and so have midwives; we should be there too.”

She added: “It’s not about elitism; it’s about the complexity of care that we are delivering now and will be delivering in the future.”

Mrs Roberton is currently chief nurse at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust and will take on a similiar role when she takes up her new position of director of nursing and patient safety at St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust in early 2010.

The Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences is run jointly by St George’s University of London and Kingston University.

Established more than 10 years ago, the faculty provides health and social care training in the UK.

With more than 4,000 students, it offers a wide range of courses in nursing, midwifery, radiography, physiotherapy, social work, paramedic sciences, biomedical sciences and continuing professional development.

It operates from three sites in south west London – St George’s Tooting base as well as Kingston University’s Kingston Hill and Penrhyn Road campuses.