With the publication of the new NMC standards for pre-registration nursing education, undergraduate curricula are being written in universities across England. There are many drivers for the curricula but one that has until recently received scant attention is the service user's and carer's voice. This paper discusses the findings of a qualitative study that asked 52 service users and carers about the qualities they sought in nurses and their views on nurse education. Eight focus groups were conducted with a broad range of service users and carers from primary and secondary care, and voluntary organisations. Data were analysed using the framework approach facilitated by a qualitative analysis software programme. The sample was diverse, but there were similarities in the qualities they valued in nurses. They sought technical competence, knowledge and willingness to seek information, but overwhelmingly prioritised 'a caring professional attitude'. This was articulated as empathy, communication skills and non-judgmental patient centred care: major themes in the new NMC standards. Our participants also expressed concern about whether the educational preparation of nurses can develop these caring qualities. We discuss this concern, the challenges for nurse educators it presents and how we can engage service users and carers in shaping and delivering our new curricula.