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Regulator releases updated draft nursing associate standards and revised code


An updated version of the standards nursing associates will need to meet and the list of skills they should be trained in have been released in draft form by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, with changes made to sections on medicines and common symptoms.

The NMC first published draft documents last year outlining its requirements for those in the new role, which is being introduced in England.

The unusual early release of the documents was aimed at giving universities, which had already begun training associates at the start of 2017, the chance to adjust the two-year pilot programmes.

But the NMC warned the proposals might change ahead of a full consultation, due next month.

In the latest version of the standards of proficiencies, released in the past week as part of council papers, the document still states nursing associates must be able to recognise signs of allergy, drug sensitivity and adverse reaction.

It also still states they must be able to recognise the different ways medicines can be prescribed.

“We have engaged widely and the latest version [of the standards] has moved on”

NMC spokesman

In line with the previous version, the document also says associates must be able to administer medication via oral, topical and inhalation routes, and give subcutaneous and intradermal injections – but no longer mentions per rectum.

The regulator has also decided not to consult on whether nursing associates should be trained in the insertion and removal of oral/nasal gastric tubes, insertion and removal of catheters for all genders, intramuscular medicines administration, and the use of infusion pumps – which it previously said it was considering.

Meanwhile, the NMC has removed an entire section detailing commonly encountered symptoms that it previously said associates should be able to identify and monitor.

Although the updated version still mentions some of these symptoms elsewhere in the document, it no longer includes reference to others including pyrexia and hypothermia, angina, breathlessness and mood swings.

In response to Nursing Times asking the NMC the reason behind the changes, an NMC spokesman said: “We took the exceptional step of issuing an early working draft of the nursing associate proficiencies, accepting that they may change before and after consultation.

“[A new introduction to the code] reinforces the message that people on our register are all accountable for their practice”

NMC council papers

“This has given providers the best possible opportunity to prepare their students for the standards we are likely to set. We have engaged widely and the latest version has moved on. Subject to council approval, our formal consultation will open in April and people can tell us what they think.”

Following an NMC council meeting tomorrow on 28 March, where the draft proposals will be discussed, a 12-week consultation is expected to be launched on 9 April.

In the same NMC council papers released in the past week, the NMC has also included its draft standards for nursing associate training programmes, which have not previously been published.

It has also unveiled a revised code of conduct that will be used by nurses, midwives and nursing associates.

The NMC said it wanted to apply the same code to all three roles because although there are differences in their proficiencies, “we hold the same expectations of professional behaviour from all of our registrants”.

It said it had developed a new introduction that “reinforces the message that people on our register are all accountable for their practice, will exercise their professional judgement at different levels, and will apply the code within their scope of practice”.

The NMC said it had been told by nurses and associates that additional information about delegation and accountability was required.

The regulator said it had in response produced “information material” that would be published “in due course”.

Consultations on the code and training programme standards are also expected to be launched on 9 April.


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