Meanwhile, universities have warned that efficiency savings required from 2010/11 may force cuts in nursing courses.
In a webcast on health policy this month, opposition leader David Cameron said nurse training involved ‘too much over-academicised training and not enough hands on'.
‘There are some areas where we have gone quite badly wrong,' he said.
‘We need to make sure the training experience is really relevant to the job nurses want to do.'
Answering online questions, Mr Cameron said his view was based on feedback from nurses.
But Dave Barton, head of nursing at Swansea University, said the statements betrayed ‘a profound lack of understanding of nursing today' and ‘pandered to people's perceptions of nursing'. ‘He's just vote hunting,' Mr Barton added.
The DoH in England plans to make nursing an all-graduate profession from 2013. Since Wales introduced degree-only entry to nursing in 2004, Mr Barton said, there was ‘no indication that the quality or standard of students is any less'.
‘If anything the standard has gone up. Putting someone through a good nursing education with a good clinical component in no way prevents someone from becoming a good capable nurse.'
Jenny Aston, chair of the RCN Advanced Nurse Practitioner forum, agreed that trainees can feel unsupported.
‘Bringing back educators with protected time in the clinical situation would improve the standard of basic clinical care.'