The White Paper, entitled Trust, Assurance and Safety - The Regulation of Health Professionals in the 21st Century, said it wanted the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence to work with regulators on developing standards for advanced practice, particularly in nursing and allied health, which should also ensure commonality with European and international standards.
The document stated: 'The department will discuss with the Nursing and Midwifery Council the outcome of their consultation on advanced nursing practice to agree next steps.'
NMC chief executive Sarah Thewlis said that although this could mean a delay, she felt the government's acknowledgement of the NMC's work on creating standards was very positive for nurse practitioners.
RCN nurse practitioner adviser Katrina Maclaine said that she also felt the comments in the document were positive, but initial discussions with the DoH would need to establish if a further delay is likely.
'I read it as the government giving the go-ahead for the next steps for the register, and the European and international element was a separate piece of work, but it's not clear and it's always difficult trying to second-guess time frames,' she said.
Meanwhile, the RCN has also published an example job description for a nurse practitioner working in general practice. Ms Maclaine, who developed the description, said it was designed as a tool for nurses to help them negotiate with GPs over pay and terms and conditions.
- The description can be accessed at www.rcn.org.uk under the section for Agenda for Change