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Exclusive: Nursing associate trainees to double in number in 2017


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 the national NHS workforce planning body, Nursing Times understands.

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.

Plans to create the role were announced in December 2015 by ministers, after the move was exclusively revealed by Nursing Times in November that year.

The role, which has divided opinion since it was revealed, is intended to bridge the gap between healthcare assistants and nurses, and create a potential new route into registered nursing.

Over the summer universities and employers were invited by Health Education England to apply to test the new role. The application process has recently closed, with test sites due to be announced in the coming weeks.

Those chosen will test the new role for two years from January 2017 onwards. In its guidance for applications, HEE said each test site would have to provide a two-year training period for a minimum of 20 students.

It said the total number of test sites – a partnership between at least one education provider and employers hosting placements – was not fixed.

Nursing associates will be required to achieve a qualification equivalent to a foundation degree. However, it is yet to be decided whether the role will be registered.

Education providers will be given funding of up to £5,000 per year for each student, while employers and other placement providers testing the role will receive up to £1,750 per year for each trainee.

HEE also carried out work over the summer to define the competencies and scope of practice for nursing associates but has yet to reveal the findings.

A spokeswoman for HEE told Nursing Times the body was still finalising details on the number of people it planned to train and that an announcement on test sites would be made shortly.


Readers' comments (6)

  • Is there any indication if there will be nursing associate roles within mental health, I planned to start a mental health nursing degree this September but had to put it off due to personal reasons, this sounds like it could be an alternative for me if I could get a HCA job in mental health.

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  • I know I'm cynical, but we've seen this before with Enrolled Nurses. I was an Enrolled Nurse once before I converted, moving from Devon to Scotland to do the course. You are either a Registered Nurse or not. Its about time the NHS,Senior Nurses,Universities,the NMC,RCN and the Government took a close look at why there is such a problem with recruiting Registered Nurses.I find it ironic, that with each passing year,the academic requirements to be a RN increase,so does the paperwork and the responsibility,but somehow this new Associate post will save the day.We already have a worryingly growing group of RN's,who don't believe it is their role to provide personal care to patients.Will these Associates follow suit?Who will be caring for the patients.I honestly believe this role will see the end of the RN within the next twenty years,as believe it or not we are too expensive and the NHS,NMC and Senior Nurses are happy to let this happen .I am proud to be a Registered Nurse.An HCA,Associate Nurse,Nursing Auxiliary. and Assistant Practitioners ARE NOT Registered Nurses unless they undertake their training.No amount of e-learning,NVQ, or QCF,will make an HCA a Registered Nurse.Roll on retirement!!

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  • As a trainee assistant practitioner I am studying at university for two years and if I had wanted to be a staff nurse I would have gone to university for the extra year. Please do not underestimate how HCA and APS gain their knowledge and development.

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  • I tend to agree with Robin....same old!

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  • Rosemary Gondwe Mazhandu

    I agree with Robin what we need is more HCA who are able and willing to do basic nursing care. As it is now there have been senior care assistants and senior nursing assistants who have been given the role of giving medicines to clients and taking blood, catheterisations etc, these groups Iam sorry to mention this as it might upset some but they tend to forget their job roles and become nurses and start ordering nurses about forgeting to do their job which is practically basic care and being support to nurses. The NMC and those that are responsible for creating these roles should go to the drawing board again before things get out of hand.

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  • I worked with an HCA today in recovery. This HCA made the decision to remove the BP,pulse and oxygen sats monitoring devices, removed the cannula and told the patient to get dress without informing a nurse in the recovery ward. She however left the patient's paperwork to be signed by a nurse.
    I was not happy about this as I wanted another set of observation to be done for a more informed decision to be made before telling the patient that she can be discharged. I spoke about this with other nurses one of them not seeing a problem with the HCA making that decision even though a blood pressure needed more monitoring.
    I feel that we are in an era of much disagreement in nursing it is not clear in nursing or caring where any line is drawn. It is made worse when more layers of nursing/caring are added without intelligent planning and understanding of how and where the wheel should turn.

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