Nurses in the UK will be required to spend a minimum of three years being trained to degree level to improve patient care and elevate the position of nurses in the country, the Department of Health has announced.

From 2013, it will be mandatory for new National Health Service nurses to have a degree in nursing or an equivalent international qualification, according to BBC News.

The regulatory body for nurses, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is developing new standards for nurse education aimed at training nurses in decision-making skills needed to make high-level clinical judgements.

Universities will offer the nursing course and curriculum outlined by the NMC from September 2011 which will cover topics ranging from anatomy to bedside manner, government officials said.

The minimum qualification required for nurses to start their careers is a diploma, or a two or three-year nursing course.