Health Education England has launched its application process for employers and education providers to test the forthcoming nursing associate role.
The national workforce planning body wants to see 1,000 people selected for the role – designed to bridge the gap between healthcare support workers and registered nurses – by the end of the year, to begin training in January 2017.
“The aspiration is to achieve a variety of test sites, across urban and rural settings”
Each test site will be a partnership between employer organisations and at least one education provider in one of NHS England’s new 44 geographical areas identified for producing local sustainability and transformation (STP) plans.
Partnerships will be expected to provide a two-year training period for a minimum of 20 students – who will be selected by employers. However, HEE said in its guidance for applications that the number of test sites was not fixed.
Employers selected for partnerships will provide placements for trainees, but additional placements at other health and care organisations could also be set up to provide a wider range of experience.
“The aspiration is to achieve a variety of test sites, across urban and rural settings, with an appropriate range of experience available to the trainees,” it said.
The government has previously said the new nursing associate role would also provide a new route for people to eventually become registered nurses.
“There is a huge appetite for this new role which will play a key part in the delivery of patient care”
HEE said in its guidance for applications to test the role that each partnership should ensure trainees could use their learning to count towards a shortened nurse degree in the future – a process known as accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL).
As previously indicated, HEE confirmed nursing associates will achieve a level 5 qualification, which is equivalent to a foundation degree.
Education providers will be given funding of up to £5,000 per year for each student, while employers and other placement providers testing the role will receive up to £1,750 per year for each trainee.
Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, HEE director of nursing and deputy director of education and quality, said: “As our recent consultation demonstrated, there is a huge appetite for this new role which will play a key part in the delivery of patient care with safety at its heart.
“It is also a central plank of HEE’s nursing and care strategy in light of the Shape of Caring review published on 12 March 2015,” she said.
The six-week application period for test sites will close on 10 August.
Meanwhile, the Nursing and Midiwifery Council has confirmed it will provide “expert input” into the development of the nursing associate role, following a request made from the Department of Health and HEE.
However, a spokesman for the regulator said it was not still not clear whether the role would be regulated.
“While responses to HEE’s recent consultation on the introduction of the new role showed strong support for nursing associates to be regulated, there is still some way to go in bringing definition to the role before a decision on regulation can be made,” he said.
“At this point, there has been no decision made on regulation. The NMC looks forward to contributing to the further development of this new role,” he added.