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HEE nursing director says there is support for nursing associate role


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.



Readers' comments (32)

  • I am a assistant practitioner band 4 and currently doing the foundation degree. All I want is to become a nurse same as a lot of band 4 and lower bands I have spoken to. I hope there is going to be something like this for mature students who are financially unable to do the usual 3 year nursing degree. There are so many bright individuals who are passionate about nursing already working in the industry and doing pretty much everything a nurse does. The only thing stopping us being a nurse is the official title from the degree. This could be a big break for many individuals out there!

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  • michael stone

    I have realised that my original comment about 'public health' was to the other article (the '10 C's' one) - not sure how I got these two threads tangled up, but I suspect that somehow I must have had 2 NT tabs open, and made a mistake.

    But - as someone commented on it here - I tend to agree that most 'consultations' are not exactly 'open': the people who publish the consultation, are very often not at all willing to make major changes to whatever they are proposing [partly, I suspect, because often the consultation is about the proposals which have emerged at the end of a significant amount of 'work' - wholesale change, would amount to 'we looked into this, but it seems we got it wrong'].

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  • The Healthcare Assistants and Assistant Practitioners Association are up in arms regarding the implementation of the new Nursing Associate role. We have trained hard for two years to better ourselves and at the end of it ...nothing. We are not recognised by staff or patients. There are no posts available at the end of the , may I say, intense course.The role is not even in any "drop-down" lists for job role ?. Please can someone tell us where it all went wrong and why we are "Ghosted" by the nursing world ? .

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  • the trust I work for has presently decided that only trained nurses can do and record patients observations and record them on the vital-pack tool equipment we use. What is the point of training for associate nurses and training support workers for enhanced nurse roles if they are not being allowed to use these skills taught in basic training and beyond...?????

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  • Pull up yr standard of nurse education to a 4 yr degree programme & pay quilified educated RGN 's correctly & then decide on the next step.

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  • Seems like just another way to get cheaper labour to make up the much needed nurse/ patient ratio. Watch out nurses there's a storm coming.

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  • Dear Emma,

    I wish you and all the others loads of luck, it seems so sad that the modern day Nurses seemk to have forgotten their roots.

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  • Regarding anonymous' opinion,my comments are based from working in the healthcare sector for over fifteen years.Whether my opinion is selective and not from a political stance, but from an observational stance,tells me that nurses have enough to do and if the bridge can be gapped, with people who are competent to do the role what is the issue.Too many nurses where I work are fed up,with the lack of patient care they can't provide due to paperwork.I did not assume I knew all the laws,policies and procedures either.

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  • Its called 'we already have nurses' so let's use them and not recreate the flimsy wheel. Life is arguably politics and the ability to clarify very important. There's is a famous quote about being cautious to experience, but I'll leave it to you to guess which one. What we arguably need is adminstrators to fulfil complex documentation, because if we don't the same situation of stop gap will just reoccur.

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  • People are so desperate for any help that yes, many would welcome almost anyone onto the ward if it would help with the workload. However , the consultation would not appear to be widespread or include opposing views as many including prominent workforce academics have spoken out about the dilution of the workforce and homogenisation of staffing statistics. Presumably based on the few people round the coffee table at the NMC who thought raising the fees and introducing revalidation with no real obligation on employers was a good idea. Presumably in order to buy a new tea service as so far they seem to have demonstrated little impact on protecting the public or the ensuring the profession progresses in a credible way.

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