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Consultation launched on plans for new nursing associate role


There has been “strong support” for the government’s proposed new “nursing associate” role to be regulated but introducing enhanced qualifications and clinical governance for it could be enough to ensure public protection, according to a consultation on the position launched today.

The consultation noted statutory regulation of the role – which is aimed at bridging the gap between healthcare support workers and registered nurses – could give the public confidence “at time when functions previously undertaken by registered professionals are being transferred to nursing associates”.

“This new role will help build the capacity and capability of the health and social care workforce”

Ian Cumming

However, it said other measures such as local and national guidelines, improved qualifications and clinical governance should be considered – as should voluntary regulation.

It also noted that if statutory regulation were introduced and nursing associates were registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council this would incur a cost for the individual from registration fees.

The consultation, published today by national workforce planning body Health Education England, said: “Decisions about whether to regulate new roles should be based on an assessment of the risks posed, taking into account the other measures in place to shape and specify practice.”

Speaking ahead of the consultation, NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith called for ministers and HEE to be transparent over whether it would be regulated. “I think there’s a risk in the title nursing associate of misleading the public if that role is not regulated,” she told Nursing Times.

Called Building capacity to care and capability to treat – a new team member for health and social care: Consultation, the document asks for views on the principles of practice for the new role, whether the provisional title of “nursing associate” is appropriate and the aspects of service it would cover.

It also asks whether this new part of the workforce should be regulated and if so by whom.

“This new enhanced role can assist, strengthen and complement the care given by graduate registered nurses”

Lisa Bayliss-Pratt

The proposed scope of practice for the new position would be focused on the delivery of the fundamental aspects of direct care, said Health Education England.

Those in the post would not be able to independently review patient treatment plans, measure or evaluate progress to make decisions on patient care or lead or design the care planning process, it added.

They would also be unable to manage or oversee care interventions or provide clinical expertise. Nursing associates would work under the leadership of registered nurses, it confirmed.

Launching the consultation today, HEE chief executive Ian Cumming said: “There is wide support across the NHS for the principle of a new role that supports registered nurses.

“We are now inviting stakeholders and other interested groups to help us with the specific details, such as the scope of the role and education and training requirements.

NHS national director for quality Ian Cumming

Ian Cumming

Ian Cumming

“I believe that this new role will help build the capacity and capability of the health and social care workforce and allow high quality care to be delivered to a diverse and ageing population,” he added.

Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, director of nursing at HEE, said: “We need a new type of care worker with a higher skillset who can deliver person-centred care in all health and social care settings.

“This new enhanced role can assist, strengthen and complement the care given by graduate registered nurses,” she said. “In addition it will create a career pathway that offers progression opportunities and gives job satisfaction to those who want to develop themselves in this important profession.”

Earlier this week, as part of a new drive on public sector apprenticeships, the government reiterated that it expected up to 1,000 people to start training as nursing associates from this year.

Ministers confirmed plans to create the role in December, after the move was exclusively revealed by Nursing Times in November.

The consultation period will end on 11 March.



Readers' comments (16)

  • Sounds like poorly paid SEN's all over again and probably not as well trained either. I feel this is not progress but just a way of saving money at the expense of Staff pay and devaluing Nursing staff. With the removal of bursaries nursing will need to fill posts if in future recruitment to nursing plummets so this will be a cheap way of staffing. I am so glad that I will be retiring soon but dreading needing medical care in my dotage.

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  • Pussy

    First comment-absolutely! Unsafe but what do we know?

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  • This will be a mistake and once again undermining the professionalism and caring role of the qualified nurse.

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  • Nursing on the cheap..roll on retirement

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  • I don't get it! I though it was called support workers? So our pins are now at risk from such. Get lost I'm off.

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  • As an advanced Nurse Practitioner of course I support change and looking at alternative ways of doing things. However in an environment where we struggle to do our jobs due to staffing issues- how is this new role going to be implemented and mentored safely?.Which part of the working day is left?. Like all the others above and many colleagues I am retiring at 55 next year,

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  • Totally agree with first statement and that of the ANP. I am a second-year student nurse, working hard to achieve my degree for very little pay at the end.Whilst the pay is not an issue for me, the job I will end up doing is. Am I now going to be under valued, will I as a staff nurse be too expensive to employ compared to an associate nurse? Why does every profession within the NHS have to now have a "cheaper" and less qualified counter part and why is this move seen as progression? It is not, it is a means to an end........the end of the NHS.

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  • I fully agree, how sad. We need more qualified nurses. It is definitely to reduce costs. The NHS is so important to keep people healthy so that they function in society. However, underfunding and added pressures will see it eroded and privatised before we know it. It is happening now and I am sure the government are very pleased that there plan is coming to fruition.

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  • 'Their' of course, sorry.

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  • Wish I was closer to retirement, this is nursing on the cheap. Why does the once proud nursing profession yet again demean itself with another ridiculous role. Not all band 5 nurses want to go on to managerial positions, but it looks like this is where we will all be pushed, but how many managers can you have or need? Band 5's your role is at risk, you cost too much and aren't worth it (at least that's how the Government and NHS see's you).

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