Swaby, Kelly (2021) Did Project 2000 fulfil the intention set by nursing’s leadership to create a profession of highly educated practitioners? Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Project 2000 was implemented in 1989. It was a revolution for nursing; it reflected a growing need for nursing to modernise and for nurses to be trained for the future in light of growing health demands. For the first time in over a century, the profession was radically changing how it trained its practitioners. Project 2000 changed how nursing saw itself. It challenged the traditional view of nurses as handmaidens and changed how nurses practiced and how nursing care was delivered to patients. The driving factors behind Project 2000 were political, economic and professional. The British government needed highly educated nurses so practice boundaries could be broadened and for nurses to undertake more skilled responsibilities and advanced practices roles. Equally, the profession desired adequate training and a respected professional status. The key to it all: Project 2000.

Project 2000 had one primary intention: to create a profession of high educated nursing practitioners. As such, debate has arisen over whether Project 2000 fulfilled the intentions of nursing’s leadership and the government. This study will address the changes introduced to develop highly educated nurses and the debates generally surrounding Project 2000, like whether it was fit for purpose.

While Project 2000 remains a contentious topic in nursing history, in-dept analysis of Project 2000, its successes in fulfilling its intentions and its shortfalls have not been updated since the early years of the twenty-first century. Therefore, this study presents a modern take on the reforms and considers a broader range of documents and government policy neglected in the investigations of the 1990s and awareness of contemporary nursing developments.

Research for this study re-examined the original Project 2000 proposal and RCN publications and secondary evidence from the 1990s scrutinising the reforms. Additionally, this study is amongst a scarce number of studies that have considered the more comprehensive NHS reforms of the 1980s and 1990s and the politicisation of NHS funding. However, uniquely, this study is the first to combine the broad context to the Project 2000 reforms and analyse how they affected implementation and the creation of a highly educated practitioner. Ultimately, this study finds that Project 2000 was by no means perfect; however, later documentation, primarily government policy and the testimonies of Project 2000 trained nurses, demonstrated that Project 2000 succeeded in fulfilling its intention of creating a profession of highly educated practitioners.

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