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Apprentice nursing associate framework 'will need revising to meet NMC standards'

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A document laying out the skills and knowledge required by apprentice nursing associates has been published for consultation, though it has been confirmed it will need to be revised once the Nursing and Midwifery Council sets regulatory standards for the new role.

The draft apprenticeship standard is a two-page overview of what those in the new role should be able to do and understand (see attached document below).

“Employers will…ensure any apprentices trained under the pre-existing standard/HEE curriculum will meet NMC registration requirements”

Angelo Varetto

Once approved, it will be used to form an assessment plan for nursing associates trained through apprenticeships – and when finalised will allow employers to take on apprentice nursing associates.

Currently, trainee associates have only been introduced at organisations selected to test the role over a two-year pilot programme that began in January 2017.

But it is understood that NHS trusts are keen to train more staff in the new role in 2018, before the pilots end, by using funding from the government’s new apprenticeship levy, which is being applied to all large employers in England from this month.

The draft document, published last week by national training body Skills for Health, covers eight areas, including professional values, nursing care skills – such as the ability to administer medication and recognise deterioration – team working, and duty of care considerations.

Other areas of skills include those required to deliver person-centred care, to communicate effectively, and an understanding of continuous learning, research and evidence-based practice.

The consultation on the draft nursing associate apprenticeship standard is open until midday on 21 April 2017.

It has been developed by a group of health and care employers – known as the “trailblazer group” – with input from other bodies and has been based on Health Education England’s curriculum for nursing associates, published at the end of 2016.

However, the NMC subsequently agreed in January to regulate the new role, meaning it will now get the final say over what competencies associates will be required to have and the standards for education.

Skills for Health confirmed to Nursing Times that this development meant the document would need to be updated once the NMC had drawn up its own regulatory standards over the next couple of years.

“Any apprentices that start on the apprenticeship standard written against the HEE curriculum framework requirements will be in the same position as any nursing associate trained through the pilots,” said Angelo Varetto, head of apprenticeships at Skills for Health.

“Once the NMC requirements are published, the employers will undertake the work necessary to ensure any nursing associate trainees/apprentices who have trained under the pre-existing standard/HEE curriculum will meet NMC registration requirements,” he said.

He told Nursing Times that it was expected that the apprenticeship standard and assessment plan would be approved by the end of the summer by the newly-formed independent Institute for Apprenticeships.

Previously, concerns have been raised that nursing associates have been developed in the “wrong order”, because pilot programmes had already begun before the NMC had set the training standards.

It has been claimed that those who train on pilot sites may not be qualified to the level required by the NMC.

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