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Peers pass legislation on NMC regulation of nursing associates

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A key milestone was passed yesterday in parliament that brings closer the regulation of the new nursing associate role by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

In January 2017, the NMC agreed to a government request to regulate nursing associates – the new bridging role being created between healthcare assistants and registered nurses.

However, legislative changes were required before the nursing regulator could take on the additional task. The plan subsequently gained “broad support” in a government consultation, paving the way for the required legal process to begin.

Yesterday, the Section 60 Order to amend NMC legislation allowing the body to regulate nursing associates cleared in a House of Lords debate.

As a result, amendments can now be made to the Nursing and Midwifery Order to provide the NMC with the necessary legal powers to regulate the nursing associate profession in England.

It means that the key aspects and regulatory functions of the legislation would apply to the controversial new role, in the same way that it already does for nurses and midwives.

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.

Meanwhile, 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.

Professor Ian Cumming, chief executive of Health Education England, said: “This is extremely welcome news and another step forward in the nursing associate journey.

“We have always been very clear that the regulation of this role is something HEE fully supports,” said Professor Cumming.

NHS national director for quality Ian Cumming

Ian Cumming

Ian Cumming

“The nursing associate role is now establishing clear career pathways for aspiring nurses, and its regulation it will give confidence to patients and employers that it is an important part of the NHS workforce,” he said.

“This December our first pilot cohort of trainee nursing associates will qualify – over 900 people,” he noted.

“Opportunities will be available from early next year for these people to continue their training whilst working to become registered,” he added.

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