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England’s senior nurses back regulation of nursing associates


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”

Nurse leaders

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.

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.

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.

CNO Summit 2014

Chief nursing officer for England

Jane Cummings

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.


Readers' comments (4)

  • It is a lie to suggest that there is widespread support for this so called "new" role, as there hasn't been any representative national polling of the profession or the nursing workforce. These senior nurses who are responsible for perpetrating this lie are guilty of committing a fatal disservice to the nursing profession by pushing through this "new" role, when all the available research evidence shows how better patient outcomes are clearly associated with the numbers of registered nurses (RNs) in the worforce. The real reason for this situation is that the government and NHS trusts want a cheaper nursing workforce and the quickest way to get it is through establishing a workforce of ancillary 'nursing associates' that are cheaper to train and cheaper to employ. NHS trusts and other care providers will then be able to reduce their RN workforce and increase the supervisory role of those RNs who remain, and who are already dangerously overburdened. Diluting the RN expertise within the workforce in the short term can only lead to poorer patient outcomes, further national scandals and erosion of the terms and conditions of employment for RNs. This is a criminal act perpetrated by those employed by government, not a decision arrived by the nursing profession as a whole. Its a wake up call for the profession showing how badly the government regulates us aided and abetted by those who really should know better.

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    Sorry Kevin ,the CQC doesn.t seem to agree with you, Care Homes with Nursing are not , at the moment "showing how better patient outcomes are clearly associated with the numbers of registered nurses (RNs) ".
    In fact Care Homes Managed by RNs seem to have a worse record than those managed by people with a proven Management record, I would welcome any thoughts on this issue as I have advocated a specialist training scheme being necessary for Nurse in Care Homes for years.

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  • The CQC don't measure the outcomes, only research does that. See the Nursing Times website today which reports the findings of Aiken: "Diluting nursing skill mix leads to higher patient mortality risk". Shaping nursing policy based on heresay and regulator reports is not a good idea, especially when there's better research-based evidence around, which the DoH seems to ignore in the case of nursing skill mix, and all the while taking the role of researching this away from NICE and dangerously giving it to those 'senior nurses' mentioned in the above article. So we now have skill mix being driven by government based on heresay and not research-based evidence. Political expediency driving the nursing profession. That's not a good deal.

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  • The CQC are trained to assess the quality of Care in all Registered Provisions including the NHS and they do this task yearly and involve the service users and their relatives , they also have statutary powers to enforce improvements I really think you are underestimating the CQC in your assumptions.
    Since the introduction of the CQC into quality control I have seen numerous problems unearthed in the NHS which seems to have been covered up or ignored for years in spite of so called researched based evidence. Regulatory reports have to be acted on not just hidden in a dark corner and forgotten as in the case of all this so called research.

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