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First 2,500 nursing associate apprenticeships to start by spring


A total of 2,500 nursing associates are expected to begin apprenticeship training in England in the first few months of this year, followed by more in the autumn, the head of the national workforce body has said.

Last year the government announced 5,000 people would begin on programmes in 2018.

Half of the group is expected to begin by April and the remaining 2,500 will start by September 2018, Health Education England’s chief executive revealed at a meeting last month.

“There continues to be huge enthusiasm, both among aspirant trainee nursing associates but also from a very large number of employers”

Ian Cumming

Professor Ian Cumming said local workforce planning bosses and universities would be notified “imminently” about the new groups of trainees.

There are already around 2,000 people involved in testing the new role – which sits between a healthcare assistant and registered nurse – at employers across the country. Two-year work-based programmes began at the start of 2017.

This year, new trainees are expected to be taught through an apprenticeship, which will mean they need to complete an additional assessment at the end.

Professor Cumming said at the body’s latest board meeting on 12 December that employers and aspirant associates were still enthusiastic about the training.

However, he said that, while many of those already on programmes had indicated they wanted to receive additional education to become a nurse, it was unclear how far new trainees would also follow this route.

“We simply do not know how many nursing associates want to go on to become registered nurses”

Ian Cumming

“There continues to be huge enthusiasm for this, both among aspirant trainee nursing associates but also from a very large number of employers who clearly see a need for this role sitting between the healthcare support worker and the registered nurse,” said Professor Cumming.

“We simply do not know how many nursing associates want to go on to become registered nurses and how many people will remain as nursing associates,” he later said.

“We know that in the initial cohort quite a large number of people are expressing an interest in going on to registered nurse training. We anticipate that very large number will be a ‘first cohort’ issue, because we’ve attracted a lot of people who want to be nurses,” he added.

“I think as we move through the rest of the cohorts we will see a balancing out of that, of people who want to be nursing associates, but we will just have to say how that plays out,” he said.

In a recent draft workforce strategy published by HEE on behalf of national health bodies, it was estimated that out of the 45,000 nursing associates expected to have qualified by 2027, around 17,000 will have become nurses.

Currently, HEE provides funding for employers to cover associate training costs, but from 2018 employers will be expected to use a new form of apprenticeship funding – through a new levy – to pay for training.

In board papers from HEE’s meeting last month, it was revealed that HEE will provide funding for supervision and mentoring, and to help employers prepare for nursing associates.

Therese Davis, a regional lead nurse for HEE in London, will chair a group responsible for expanding the associate training programme in 2018-19, stated the board papers.


Readers' comments (8)

  • The trainee nurse associate I have spoken to recently have stated they feel they are not having enough clinical practice for what the role entails. To administer drugs is a huge responsibility for any nurse, student nurse, nurse associate and their training is not adequate for the responsibility they will have.
    I'm a midway 2nd year student nurse who still has another year and half left from my degree and the responsibility is huge and have more training. The nurse associate us a good idea but needs to be looked at regarding extra training or more structured training to help them feel confident to do the job expected of them from their trust and area they work.

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  • Just another Govt move to cut costs within NHS. More legal responsibility being piled on the Registered Nurses. All the pleasure of being able to do your job properly and give the care you've been trained to do being taken away. Registered nurses suffering from burnout and NMC dealing heartlessly with any mistakes made due to staffing issues and overworking, safety cannot be guaranteed with nurses on 13+ hour shifts and no breaks for nutrition or hydration.
    Nursing is crumbling, not helped by people not nurses and academic nurses who should be ashamed of themselves for being complicit with them in dumbing down the profession.
    I am beside myself with anger at such disrespect being shown to our profession.

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  • This is dangerous! Evidence shows the more nursing staff on shift on a ward with a degree education the lower the mortality rate of patients on that ward. But Jeremy hunt couldn't care less. All about (unnecessary) cost cutting, at a time when the NHS is under more pressure than ever due to an aging population. A scary time to be a patient, and a nurse.

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  • Ashley is right about the evidence. Even if some go on to become RNS it will have taken longer than the current degree for which there was no shortage of applicants.

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  • However Jennifer there was a a 25% drop in applications for degree courses last September due to the removal by our friend Mr Hant of the student bursaries. Several degree courses were also cut. Very worrying.

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  • I am a registered nurse of 30 years, I remember the SEN training, the main problem with it was that SEN’s ended up doing the same job as the RGN’s (then known as SRN’s) for less pay and recognition, and no opportunity for career progression as there were never enough places for them to complete the additional training to become fully qualified, which I understand was why the role was disbanded.

    I personally feel nursing is a practical skill and the training for all should be more like an apprentiship and less academic, I feel the Associate Training will be a good thing for the NHS as many highly capable Health Care Professionals will be encourad to enter the service, who will do a good job even if they are less academic, though in fairness to them I hope they don’t end up carrying equal responsibility as Nurses as in the past without the fair pay and recognition they deserve.

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  • Isn’t to point of a trial to complete it, look at the results and then make a decision? The first cohort haven’t finished their training yet already more are being recruited.

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  • It all comes down to saving money I’m afraid, governments and all the so called elites are not concerned about the profession or patients until something goes wrong then scapegoats are found and removed from the profession. The less educated the nurse the more likely they won’t question or protest it’s a very clever and sneaky way to introduce more ‘nurses’ on the cheap. Do away with the bursary and consequently applications will diminish therefore saving even more money. How sad that the profession has lost its professionalism

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