The four most senior nurses in England have confirmed their support for nursing associates to be regulated, in the wake of question marks over the new role and how it will be used.
The nursing representatives from NHS England, Health Education England and NHS Improvement defended the need for the new role in a statement, arguing that there was “widespread support” for it across the country.
“Our expectation… is that the nursing associate will be regulated”
The role would strengthen the support available to nurses and “reduce the reliance and dependency” on them to do things “that others can be trained to do”, they said.
The statement is signed by chief nursing officer for England Professor Jane Cummings, HEE director of nursing Professor Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, NHS Improvement executive nurse director Ruth May, who is also a deputy CNO, and fellow deputy CNO Hilary Garratt, director of nursing at NHS England.
As reported by Nursing Times, recent revelations that nursing associates will be trained to calculate drug doses, administer controlled medications and work independently have sparked concerns about the future role of nurses and prompted further calls for the new role to be regulated.
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Documents leaked earlier this month on the proposed curriculum for training those in the new role also stated that nursing associates would be able to carry out invasive procedures on patients without the direct supervision of a qualified nurse.
In addition, they will be trained to help assess, plan, deliver and evaluate care, as well as recognise deteriorating patients.
As previously revealed by Nursing Times, Professor Bayliss-Pratt has already indicated that HEE would like to see nursing associates regulated, but the CNO has not previously indicated such strong support.
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In their joint statement on the role, the four senior nurses stated: “Our expectation, subject to further work on assessing the patient safety impact of the role, is that the nursing associate will be regulated.”
The Nursing and Midwifery Council has previously stated to Nursing Times that it would be able to take on the additional regulatory task, but the final decision lies with the Department of Health.
Chief nursing officer for England
Meanwhile, the joint statement also argued that the new nursing associate role would be a “key part of a multi-disciplinary workforce needed to meet the needs of a changing population”.
The NHS needed to “build an adaptable contemporary responsive workforce”, as well as having a duty to use its resources “wisely” and ensure “careers remain attractive and accessible”, it said.
The four nurse leaders added that the nursing associate role was “part of the developing contemporary workforce and will work under the direction of a fully qualified registered nurse”.
“The nursing associate is not a registered nurse but will undertake some of the duties that a registered nurse currently undertakes,” they said.
“The role of the nursing associate will enable the registered nurse to spend more time on the assessment and care associated with both complex needs and the advances in treatments,” they stated.
They added: “The nursing associate will have the training and skills to bridge the gap between what a healthcare assistant can do and what a registered nurse is now needed to do.
“Using the appropriate tools and frameworks that support decisions about safe staffing, employers will have options about how to manage resources appropriately in accordance with clear, professional and evidenced based guidance,” they said.