This paper reports the findings from a study commissioned by the English National Board for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting (ENB), entitled Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Educational Preparation for Critical Care Nursing. One aim of the study was to generate evidence that incorporated the national perspective on the priorities for core competencies and a national threshold standard of the ENB critical care clinical awards. Although these courses are no longer validated by the professional statutory body, the findings illuminate some key insights into the current challenges facing providers and consumers of critical care education as well as into implications for all post-registration education provision. The paper outlines how the study data were collected, how the core competendes were generated and the national consultation exercise and the levers and barriers that affect the introduction of core competencies. Other aspects of the study data are reported elsewhere (Scholes and Endacott, 2002).