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NMC reveals final plans to regulate first nursing associates in 2019


Final proposals for the regulation of nursing associates, including the skills and knowledge students will need in order to qualify, have been outlined by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

The nursing associate role has been introduced in England by the government to bridge the gap between registered nurses and healthcare assistants.

The move has been welcomed by some, especially nursing directors with high vacancy rates, but some academics and unions have warned that the controversial new role could be seen as a cheaper substitute for registered nurses.

As reported by Nursing Times, the NMC became the official regulator for nursing associates in July, after legislation received royal assent. The legislation provides for the regulation of nursing associates “to be broadly the same as the approach we take to nurses and midwives”, noted the NMC.

Previously, in March, the NMC published an updated draft version of the standards nursing associates will need to meet and the list of skills they should be trained in.

This was followed in April by a 12-week consultation exercise on the proposals that has now been followed by what is likely to be the final version if approved by the regulator’s council.

The new standards for the role have been published by the NMC this week in a 63-page document alongside its recommendations on the wider approach to the regulation of nursing associates.

“Overall, there was a consistent and strong degree of support for our proposals for the regulation of nursing associates,” said the regulator in its report on the consultation process.

As part of its plans, the NMC has set out how the existing code – with a new introduction and some minor changes – will apply to nursing associates as well as nurses and midwives.

The regulator said its approach would ensure that the same high standards of professional behaviour and conduct would apply to everyone on its register.

In addition, the proposed fees that nursing associates will be expected to pay have also been set out and will bring nursing associates “broadly into line with nurses and midwives”. Nursing associates will be expected to pay £120 to join the register and then the same amount annually to stay on it.

Meanwhile, the main way for a nursing associate to train will be through work-based learning – more widely known as an apprenticeship.

As a result, the NMC said it had worked closely with employers and educators to develop a new approach to ensuring appropriate learning time for students.

This, it said, will give education providers and their practice placement partners more flexibility to decide how students will get the protected learning time they need.

One option could be the traditional “supernumerary” model – where students were additional to the minimum number of staff required for safety.

However, under a new option, trainee associates would be included in the numbers required for safety but trusts must demonstrate how they will protect a certain amount of learning time.

“The nurses they are working alongside recognise the potential of the role now and in the future”

Geraldine Walters

This might be by giving them time away from their usual duties or showing that they have supervision when developing new skills, suggested the regulator.

Under both options, students would be supervised and must receive the same amount of protected learning time.

The NMC’s governing council will be asked to approve the proposed approach to regulation at its meeting on the 26 September.

Geraldine Walters, director of education and standards at the NMC, said: “It’s clear from what we’ve seen and heard that trainee nursing associates are appreciated by those they’re caring for, and that the nurses they are working alongside recognise the potential of the role now and in the future.

“We know just how important it is that students who are training ‘on the job’ have time away from their everyday duties to learn,” said Ms Walters.

King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Nursing director to leave King’s for NMC role

Geraldine Walters

“We’re confident that the plans we’ve outlined today will not only support students to learn and keep patients safe but also work for employers too,” she said.

She added: “We look forward to seeing the first qualified nursing associates caring for people across England from January next year.”

In January 2017, the first group of 1,000 trainee nursing associates began two-year programmes, followed by a further 1,000 in April that year at pilot sites across England.

In April this year, the NMC said just under 500 further trainee nursing associates had also commenced programmes in England so far, with more than 4,000 expected to begin later in 2018.


Readers' comments (9)

  • Looks like nursing on the cheap but the reality will be far more costly.

    Why on earth our "leaders" have supported this post yet let the bursary be
    destroyed is beyond me. .

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  • Also me.

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  • Lots more money for the NMC with the additional registration fees.

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  • I am a Trainee Assistant Practitioner with 30 years experience in healthcare, we should all be welcoming associate nursing practitioners with open arms!!! and assistant practitioners looking after them on the wards, nurturing them, not slagging them off, we are here to help patients and nurses and to support you nurses. After all nurse shortages, what else are we going to do. I will be well qualified upon completion with relevant training, embrace it everyone and stop moaning.

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  • WHY WILL REALITY BE MORE COSTLY??? I Would much rather work with a good HCA or an AP than an agency nurse, with no get-up and go, lazy and paid through the roof!! STOP moaning about these new roles and support it!! if you dont like it, get out and work at sainsburys... rant over

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  • So here is the thing folks, the people that are saying nurses are "slagging off" AP's and "get out and work at Sainsbury's" are missing one or two valuable points.

    1) You are going to be used as cheap labour. Plain and simple. The hospitals don`t even have to wait until your training is over to do that now. They can even do it while you are a student.

    2) I have worked with many HCA`s who were amazing at what they did, and could quite easily have gone on to become qualified nurses- some even did. However, because you will earn less than an RN, and knowing the MO of these hospitals with "fiscal responsibility" constantly on their mind, they WILL be employing you instead of RNs. Why do you think they would be pleased about being put out of a job?

    3)The RN is ultimately going to be responsible for what you do. I understand you will be registered, however, anyone delagating a task, i.e. the RN, is responsible for overseeing it's completion- and it's outcome.

    To me, the nursing crisis was caused by a lack of decent pay, and awful working conditions. This would be better met by remediation, and thereby encouraging people back into the job rather than creating a whole new role, unless you had an ulterior motive behind it like a smaller wage bill. I would love to be wrong and I wish the AP's well, but I also believe that qualified nurses- and their union representatives- should be watching this very closely.

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  • And what about the Trainee Assistant Practitioners also being recognished, nurses moaning about protecting their pins. Delegation is taught in University is it not?

    And good on you all you trained Nursing Associates, just what the NHS needs.... Well done!

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  • Jealousy from Nurses, very sad, they should be happy with all the support they are getting from AP's and NA's. The feedback I get is that most of the nurses would not have done the nursing degree but with they waited and did the NA or AP role.
    Delegation is important and you only delegate the work if the person you are delegating it to is competent, no idea what nurses are worried about? Wages probably

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  • Do you not delegate on a daily basis to HCA's everyday? what is the difference?, only you will have a more qualified member of staff to delegate the work to. I think these new roles are amazing for staff who have worked as HCA's for years and have a considerable amount of knowledge and training. Apprenticeships are fabulous and we dont have to pay for the first year of nursing. How fantastic is that. I am currently doing my foundation degree to become and AP and loving it. I will benefit any nursing team and will do it with pride. Please try and support us and stop thinking about yourselves.

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