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NMC to begin developing nursing associate standards this summer

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The Nursing and Midwifery Council will start work on drawing up professional standards for the new nursing associate role this summer, according to a report by the regulator.

The nursing associate role is currently being piloted in England by Health Education England with 2,000 trainees due to graduate from January 2019.

“Over the summer we intend to develop and refine a working draft of the standards of proficiency and the education provider standards”

NMC council papers

The NMC, which has been tasked with regulating the new role, has set a goal of developing both draft standards of proficiency for associates, and draft standards for education providers, by autumn this year – with a consultation following next year.

Like nurses and midwives, nursing associates will be expected to adhere to a professional code of conduct used as a benchmark for revalidation and fitness to practise.

Papers published ahead of an NMC council meeting due to take place next week show the regulator has already done an initial review of its existing code of practice for nurses and midwives, and other practice standards and guidance, to assess how these might apply to nursing associates.

“We recognise the importance of the development of the code for nursing associates and the role the code will play in defining the role of the nursing associate in practice,” says a report on progress so far.

“We intend to ensure that we seek a wide range of views in this area drawing on our experience of developing the current code and capitalising on the success and positivity we received from the professions we already regulate,” say the papers.

The report states the NMC will launch a formal consultation on the code and nursing associate standards next year, with the NMC council asked to approve final versions in autumn 2018.

“We recognise…the role the code will play in defining the role of the nursing associate in practice”

NMC council papers

It shows some work has already taken place including workshops at sites trialling the new role.

“Over the summer we intend to develop and refine a working draft of the standards of proficiency and the education provider standards, as well as understand the impact that the introduction of nursing associates may have on the existing code,” says the report, which will be discussed at the NMC council meeting on 5 July.

This will include getting input from unions, patient groups and chief nursing officers of different UK nations.

An initial draft of the standards will be formally discussed by the NMC council for the first time in September.

The report promises the body will “ensure the draft standards have had a sufficient level of exposure and debate before they come to Council in September 2017”.

Ensuring public protection will be “of paramount importance” when drawing up the new standards, it adds.

Meanwhile the NMC reiterated there should not be any extra costs to nurses, midwives and others already on the NMC register.

“The DH has agreed to meet reasonable NMC costs and we are working to agree the resources required,” add the papers.

A discussion on nursing associate registration fees is expected in September at an NMC council meeting, followed by a consultation to follow and the final fee in September 2018.

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