The prime minister and health secretary are to unveil plans to examine the future role of nurses and midwives to establish how they can help improve patient safety and provide high-quality care.
A group of experts will take part in the Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery to look at how expanding the role of nurses and midwives, by allowing them to manage and run more of their own services, would improve the quality of services available.
Under the Commission, the roles of all types of nurses and midwives will be examined including health visitors, mental health and learning disability nurses.
The Commission has a year to gather its findings from consultations with medical staff, patients and the public, and will report back to Gordon Brown and Alan Johnson in March next year.
Speaking about the plans, Mr Johnson said: "Nurses now have more powers to make real, tangible improvements on wards, in GP centres and in the community.
"With the focus for the NHS centred on quality, now is a good time to consider how we build on these expanding roles."
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), backs the plans, saying nurses spend more time with patients, "therefore know what is needed to deliver high-quality patient care".