Tell us about the current state of support for new nurses

Has support improved or not for newly registered nurses in the UK? That is what a new survey by Nursing Times is seeking to find out.

Nursing Times, in partnership with the union Unison and the nursing charity the Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF), is today relaunching a survey that we conducted two years ago on preceptorship.

“By completing this survey, we will get a true understanding of the state of preceptorship”

Gemma Stacey

A preceptorship is a structured programme of support that newly registered nurses, midwives and associates should receive as they start their first roles in practice.

They are also sometimes offered to internationally educated nurses and midwives when they begin with a UK employer.

However, our survey in 2021-22 found that too many nurses were missing out on good-quality preceptorship, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The original survey, completed by more than 5,000 nursing staff and students, found widespread concern about newly registered nurses being “thrown in at the deep end” and left to “sink or swim” without adequate support.

Since then, Nursing Times, Unison and the FNF have continued to keep a spotlight on the issue of preceptorship through a joint campaign. There have also been positive changes nationally.

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In October 2022, NHS England launched a new national nursing preceptorship framework and standards, and similar plans are currently progressing in Wales.

Meanwhile, the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, published in June 2023, acknowledged the current variation in preceptorship in England.

It pledged to support trusts to adopt the new framework to ensure “consistent delivery, and a high-quality preceptorship experience for all early career nurses and midwives”.

An update on the campaign also featured in a panel session, which included representatives from Unison and FNF, at our online event last month, as part of the annual Nursing Times Workforce Summit.

Our new survey is now seeking to find out if the experience of, and access to, preceptorship has changed  for nurses, midwives and nursing associates since we looked at in 2021-22.

Gemma Stacey

Professor Gemma Stacey, deputy chief executive of the FNF, said: “We know the importance of meaningful preceptorship programmes.

“Last year’s campaign highlighted too many were missing out on high-quality support at this critical time in their career.

“By completing this survey, we will get a true understanding of the state of preceptorship, where the gaps are, and how we can continue to collaborate and shine a light on good practice.”

Stuart Tuckwood, chief nursing officer at Unison, said: “The transition to qualified practice for new nurses has undoubtedly become more challenging in recent years.

“Nurses have made it abundantly clear they value high-quality preceptorships and want more consistent support.”

Stuart Tuckwood

Mr Tuckwood said Unison had “worked hard over the past few years to build the frameworks and secure investment to make improved preceptorships a reality for all”.

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“Agreeing better support for new healthcare professionals in the workplace was one of Unison’s demands in the deal that ended the NHS pay dispute,” he added.

“To get a better idea of the progress that’s been achieved, it’s important to hear how newly qualified nurses and those supporting them in practice have been affected.

“Please share your experiences to help inform and develop this campaign.”


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