The demand from healthcare assistants wanting to take part in nursing associate training has been described as “fantastic” by the head of the workforce body leading the introduction of the new role, who also praised the quality of applicants.
Health Education England’s chief executive Ian Cumming said HCAs, working both in the NHS and in social care, viewed training for the new role as an opportunity to improve their careers, after having worked as “dedicated and committed” members of the support staff workforce.
“We are getting some really dedicated and committed people… who are now seeing this as an opportunity to take forward their career”
He said there had also been “huge support” from universities and other academic providers for introducing in the new post, which is intended to act as a bridge between HCAs and nurses.
HEE announced in October the initial 11 test sites that will pilot the first wave of 1,000 nursing associate trainees in England from January 2017.
It confirmed at the end of November that a second group of 24 test sites would also pilot the two-year programme with an additional 1,000 trainees from 2017, as previously revealed by Nursing Times.
Health and care organisations across the country are now in the process of recruiting trainees.
“I know from direct feedback from people that the level and number of applicants are fantastic”
At HEE’s latest board meeting on 13 December, the body’s chief executive said: “We are getting some really dedicated and committed people – who have absolutely demonstrated the values and behaviours over the time they worked in the NHS and social care as part of the healthcare support workforce – who are now seeing this as an opportunity to be able to take forward their career.”
“I know from feedback from [social media site] Twitter, but also from direct feedback from people, that the level and number of applicants are fantastic,” he said.
“But we are also seeing huge support from universities, higher education institutions, other academic providers who want to be a part of this,” he added.
“We’ll obviously keep the [HEE] board informed as we move through this pilot over the next couple of years, but we’ve certainly had no shortage of people willing to come forward and take that [the piloting of nursing associates] on,” said Mr Cumming.
Nursing associates are expected to be paid a salary equivalent to band 4 within the NHS Agenda for Change pay framework once they complete their training, although this has still yet to be confirmed. They will have achieved a qualification equivalent to a foundation degree.
It has previously been stated that nursing associates will also be able to use their learning to go on to potentially fast-track training to become a nurse.
The final version of the training curriculum for the role, published last month, stated that associates will be able to administer drugs “within the confines of local employer policies” and will be able to calculate drug doses under delegation.
However this marked a change to a leaked draft version of the document, which attracted criticism for stating that associates would be able to administer controlled drugs.
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Meanwhile, at the end of November, health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that he had asked the Nursing and Midwifery Council to regulate the role.
The NMC has said the matter will require a “full and thorough” debate when it makes a decision at its next council meeting on 25 January.
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