The chief nursing officer for England has said she “would not be against” regulation of the new nursing associate role if its introduction caused concerns around patient safety.
Jane Cummings told conference delegates yesterday that she had an “open mind” about regulation of the new post, which the government wants to introduce as a bridge between healthcare support workers and registered nurses.
“They are supporting the care of patients under the supervision of registered nurses”
“If people are trained and educated and are working potentially at a band 4 level, and are caring for people even under the supervision of a registered nurse, if there are issues around patient safety or needing to maintain safety for the public, then I would not be against regulating them,” she said at Nursing Times’ Deputies Congress.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council has previously told Nursing Times that it would be able to regulate the role is asked to do so.
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NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith, who also addressed the event for deputy nursing directors in London on Tuesday, said it was for the profession to decide if it wanted the role introduced first and that the regulator was “neutral” on the issue.
“Our role in this is to influence discussion and be clear if we are asked to regulate we are ready to do it,” said Ms Smith.
Meanwhile, the CNO also stressed that she was “absolutely clear” that those in the future nursing associate role would not be nurses.
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“These are nursing associates, people that are educated at a higher level than we’ve currently got with our healthcare assistants, and they are supporting the care of patients under the supervision of registered nurses,” she said.
When asked whether registered nurses might be substituted with nursing associates in the future, she said it should not be done on the grounds of affordability.
CNO ‘not against’ regulation of new nursing associates
Source: Andy Paraskos
However, Ms Cummings suggested there could be instances where it occurred appropriately due to skill mix, for example where a situation did not necessarily require a qualified nurse to be present but did need a staff member with more training than an ordinary HCA.
“You might have a ward where you need an extra nurse and at the moment all you have is an RN,” she said. ”But actually when you look at the needs of the patient and you use proper patient dependency [tools] and you link that to the skills available, in some cases you might have a nursing associate who is there because they can do more than an HCA but because the patients don’t need another RN.
“In some cases, it may be entirely appropriate to have somebody that is trained and educated and able to deliver care at a band 4 level but it’s got to be for the right reason – not because we can’t afford a registered nurse,” she told delegates.