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Need for nursing associate regulation assessed by super-regulator


An assessment of whether nursing associates should be regulated or not is being carried out by the body that oversees the work of the Nursing and Midwifery Council and other professional regulators, following a request by government officials.

According to NMC council papers published last week, the outcome of the assessment “will inform a ministerial decision about regulation of nursing associates later in the year”.

“The DH asked the Professional Standards Authority to provide advice on whether and how the new role of nursing associates might be regulated”


Nursing Times understands the Professional Standards Authority was asked to carry out the assessment by the Department of Health based on a draft version of the scope of practice for the forthcoming role, which was developed over the summer by Health Education England.

The PSA’s assessment is based on a new risk assessment approach that the body has developed, but it was unable to provide any details to Nursing Times about what this approach entailed.

In addition, the PSA is also looking at whether physician associates – another relatively new role that has already been brought in to support doctors – should be regulated.

The nursing associate role, which is designed to bridge the gap between healthcare assistants and nurses, will be introduced at some health and care organisations in January when it will be tested.

Nt editorial jackie smith

Nt editorial jackie smith

Jackie Smith

At an NMC council meeting yesterday, it was revealed that the PSA was originally due to report on its findings to the DH by September.

NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith told the council meeting that the PSA was being “pressed” and it was now expected that “something would emerge in the next couple of weeks”.

A spokesman for the PSA said: ”The Department of Health asked the Professional Standards Authority to provide advice on whether and how the new role of nursing associates might be regulated.

“The PSA has worked with HEE and the NMC over the summer and consulted with officials in the four UK governments. A report is being prepared for the Department of Health,” he said.

He added that the PSA’s new approach to assessing occupational risk would be be published in early October.

As revealed earlier this week, the number of nursing associates trained in the first phase of the new role’s introduction is set to be doubled under plans being drawn up by HEE.

When the new role was first announced at the end of last year, the government said it expected 1,000 people to be selected for training by the end of 2016, with programmes beginning early next year.

Nursing Times has learnt that the programme will now be expanded to allow 2,000 people to be trained as part of this initial pilot phase.


Readers' comments (7)

  • Nursing on the cheap with no regulations, just what the NHS needs. Isn't it about time they just figured out how to retain nurses? Are we just going to train associates and then make nurses responsible for any errors? As usual another half baked, Ill thought out idea.

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  • A recipe for disaster. The nurses will carry the can for any errors on their shift.
    The majority of the 5000 nurses who have been repeatedly suspended by the NMC since 2012 are in fact 'safe' nurses. Their charges have often been frivolous, trivial or vindictive and should have been dealt with in house. (Some dangerous nurses are still working)

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  • Care home workers are regulated why shouldn't this role be too. It's ridiculous.

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  • All our care staff including myself are registered with the sssc , everyone within care wether private or nhs should be regulated .

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  • Please could those who support this new role provide detailed explanations as to what is expected of

    1 The Registered band 5 nurse

    2 The Nursing Associate

    3 The Healthcare Assistant

    If the roles are not defined how on earth will it work?

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  • As a student nurse I can say I am optimistic about this new role. All the academic and still practicing staff I've spoken with seem to think they'll be put on a register like band 5s. I think the issue is we are all eager to find out their scope and what the band 5's NEW scope will be. Yes, it's cheaper nursing, pretty logical with all this austerity. I don't see an issue. Only time will tell...

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  • I feel both NA and HCA should also be regulated as are nurses.

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