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HEE nursing director says there is support for nursing associate role

  • 32 Comments

There is a “strong appetite” for the introduction of nursing associates, according to those leading consultation on the new role.

Plans to create the role, which have divided opinion, were revealed by Nursing Times last year and subsequently confirmed in a government announcement in December.

“We were talking about this role and there is a real appetite for it”

Lisa Bayliss-Pratt

It was originally referred to as an “associate nurse” role but this was subsequently altered slightly to “nursing associate” by the Department of Health – though the precise title is yet to be set in stone.

The move is intended to bridge the gap between healthcare assistants and nurses, and create potential a new route into registered nursing. A consultation on it, spear-headed by Health Education England (HEE), has now closed and the body is in the process of analysing the results.

HEE’s director of nursing Lisa Bayliss-Pratt told Nursing Times the early indications were there was support and enthusiasm for the concept.

“I was in Northumbria last week and the Isle of Wight and we were talking about this role and there is a real appetite for it,” she said. “But as ever the devil’s in the detail. Will it be regulated? What’s the education level of attainment? What’s its title? How does it fit with the therapy professions?”

“It has not just been a smattering of people and it certainly has not been done in a dark corner”

Lisa Bayliss-Pratt

She said the consultation had attracted around 1,388 responses and HEE was “delighted in the level of interest”.

“From a sneak preview of who has actually responded, I am delighted to see we have got third sector involvement, royal medical colleges, the Royal College of Nursing and arm’s length body responses, as well as many individual responses from student nurses, support workers and registrants,” she said.

“That’s fantastic because it has not just been a smattering of people and it certainly has not been done in a dark corner,” she said. “The reach it has had has been really impressive.”

Analysis of consultation responses would show whether people want the role or not, she noted.

“It feels like they do, to be quite frank,” she said. “Whatever the answers are to the title, the regulation, the education attainment, how it fits with the team, there does seem to be a strong appetite.

“It’s really exciting and I can’t wait to see the findings and explore the analysis in more detail,” she told Nursing Times.

Prior to the consultation, reaction to the new role’s creation had been mixed. Many directors of nursing declared their support for the idea, while unions had warned that it must be viewed as supplementary to registered nurses, rather than as a substitute.

In a Nursing Times survey of nearly 1,000 nurses at the end of last year, 47.5% of respondents said they welcomed the role, 36% said they were unsure and 16.5% said they were opposed.

Dr Bayliss-Pratt also said the HEE consultation had “shone a light” on some key questions for the nursing profession, including how best to create career paths for support workers and “raise the bar of the support workforce”.

“In turn that raises questions about what graduate nurses do, how they should be operating and what kind of knowledge and skills they need in order for this role to be successful,” she said.

Dr Bayliss-Pratt said HEE would not embark on next steps until the analysis of the consultation had been completed.

“We have thought about how we would work pilots, but we still need to work through the analysis and decide whether people really want it. Until then we can’t confirm anything,” she said.

“Provisionally we have thought about 1,000 people for next year. But until we’ve got the data and until we know it’s what people want it would be foolish to start that conversation,” she added.

 

  • 32 Comments

Readers' comments (32)

  • im sure the government is ravenous for cheap labour

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  • 1.How about the Associate Practitioners? They are very well educated and already "bridging the gap".
    2.How about professional accountability?
    3.There was no real, public consultation about the nursing associate role.
    4.RCN sleeps well....

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  • I'm sorry but a foundation degree doesn't make you well educated. It is cheap labour and a method of deskilling and creating a competitive market which makes it more cut throat for all. This won't mean all will be trained either and is clearly a method to see who is felt to deserve training by employers rather than a persons own ability to afford it. The evidence already indicates care is not improved by the presence of these workers. When I here language like let you nurses be warned doesn't help the case of associate nurses. Where they have to be closely monitored suggests who in fact is being supervised, but also why should nurses be accountable for those with nurse in the title. I'm sure there is a legality issue here but also there is a question of working with nurses without appropriate indemnity or who might not be covered by company insurance. I certainly don't pay to cover for someone else's mistakes.

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  • Cheap labour, less educated, lower grade of staff, these are a few words picked from a few comments.I would hasten to add if it was not for the vigilance of hca's, support workers and na's, most nurses would not have a clue if the patient symptoms changed.Don't downgrade us because we did not go to university.I as well as many other hca's know the laws,health conditions and relevant medications we work with,sometimes better than the educated RN.

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  • Cheap labour, less educated, lower grade of staff, these are a few words picked from a few comments.I would hasten to add if it was not for the vigilance of hca's, support workers and na's, most nurses would not have a clue if the patient symptoms changed.Don't downgrade us because we did not go to university.I as well as many other hca's know the laws,health conditions and relevant medications we work with,sometimes better than the educated RN.

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  • And your picked words are arguably selective, which means your skewing the greater view, this is exactly the concerns when nurses express their points, which is potential of hostile associate nurses trying to userp the nurse. In fact educated is in terms of relevance to what the student nurse and nurse is taught relevant to care, don't mistake as you have done for what is better - no one is necessarily better. Nobody has mentioned HCAs it is the argued unnecessary role of associate nurse. in fact alll hcas and nurses are all very much underpaid. you are in a debating with thin air in that you make points not mentioned and you can't possibly know all law, medications and conditions. It is cheaper labour compared to the nurse and not the same education as a nurse (although nursing education is not perfect). Try not to be offended just learn some more and understand the greater political picture of what is happening. Opportunity is great but not at the expense of sounding competitive with nurses.

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  • michael stone

    Just for clarity - my comment about 'being upset that the good doctor had ignored me' was tongue-in-cheek.

    If I were upset whenever I'm ignored, or 'slagged-off', I would have given up long ago.

    But my other point was serious: it is a perfectly valid approach to suggest 'We will do something [for example, use nurses more in connection with the promotion of public-health campaigns, or provide better primary care with the hope that hospital admissions would then be reduced] with the aim of achieving 'some outcome'. But, you should do it first, and see if the outcome does follow - does better public-health promotion by nurses reduce things like obesity, does providing more community nurses reduce the number of hospital admissions of the elderly.

    I keep seeing what looks like 'cart before horse' - I see 'we will reduce spending because if we do 'whatever' it will lead to a healthier population', and I see the success of the [usually untested] method ASSUMED in future [especially spending] plans.

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  • michael stone

    BEN MCDONNELL18 MARCH, 2016 6:25 PM

    Ben, I'm pretty sure I sent something to the consultation, which cannot have been 'secret' if I found it.

    But these consultations do need discovering - I often find them after they have closed (one notable exception being the Neuberger LCP consultation, when for a very 'strange' reason I managed to send a submission before the consultation had explained how to do that - that 'reads weird', so I'll explain. I read that Lady Neuberger was heading a consultation into the LCP, but the webpage did not have details of how to respond on it {the details appeared a couple of days later}. So I e-mailed a DH contact and said 'how would I send something to the Neuberger Review ?' and my contact sent back 'send it to me - my office is acting as temporary support for the review').

    Signing up for e-mail newsletters is one way of discovering consultations, as they will often be mentioned (for example, the CQC newsletters). They are also often mentioned here on NT.

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  • The difference between consultations and forums is that consultations are usually a decision already made and not a democratic forum. So even if you knew the consultation existed don't expect your view to count. If I remember correctly It's the same to what the NMC did with non-democratic revalidation. They offered you are a view on it but no where to disagree.

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  • It's quite simple in my opinion-nurses deliver hands on nursing care to patients. Graduate nurses should have a greater knowledge of care & skills (than we received when I trained) so they can intervene quicker, earlier, for example, to prevent a patients condition from deteriorating on a ward. They then support & train the new graduate nurses in the clinical area so they acquire those skills as well. Unregistered nursing assistants are a valuable member of the team who assist the registered staff in patient care but at all times the registered nurse is the main care giver. They do not & should not, take on the roles & responsibilities of the registered nurse. This move from the registered nurse being reduced in numbers on the ward & being replaced by band 3 & 4's is a receipe for disaster in my opinion. Every day I see registered staff running around trying to deliver care as well as 'overseeing' unregistered staff. The amount of paper work/ assessments they have to do is phenomenal! Under the financial constraints of todays NHS, as a manager who would you employ - a band 5 or two band 3's? Unfortunately once nurses move up the management ladder they appear to 'sing the organisational tune'. Senior nurses need to remember they are nurses & support their colleagues & patients by speaking out & doing the right thing- no matter how uncomfortable that may be for them.

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