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NMC expects 65 universities to be first to seek approval for associate courses

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A total of 65 universities are expected to apply for approval to run nursing associate programmes over the course of the next academic year, according to the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

The regulator revealed the estimate in its latest council papers, where it laid out how it plans to check and approve courses during the 2018-19 academic year.

At an NMC council meeting this week, the regulator’s head of education, Geraldine Walters, explained the timeline and added that at this stage further education colleges wanting to provide nursing associate training would only be able to do so if they were partnered with an approved university.

The NMC is still awaiting legislation changes before it becomes the regulator of nursing associates and can start approving courses.

The legislation is expected to be in place by the autumn, several months before it opens its register to the new role in January 2019.

Geraldine Walters Jan09 3

Geraldine Walters

However, ahead of that time, NHS trusts and other employers are planning to take on further trainee nursing associates - and organisations involved in piloting the role have also been training associates since 2017.

Health Education England, the national workforce body that first developed the new role, expects a further 2,500 nursing associate apprenticeships to begin by the spring, with another 2,500 starting in the autumn.

The NMC released an early draft version of its competency standards for nursing associates at the end of last year, but it is not expected to launch a full consultation until spring – or finalise them until the autumn.

Nursing associates trained through pilot sites will be able to join the register under interim arrangements, but the NMC has yet to confirm whether apprentices will be able to do so under the same measures.

Under Department of Health proposals, appprentices may instead have to sit a test to gain entry to the register.


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