Over 1,000 nursing associates have now joined the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s register – a moment that has been described by healthcare leaders as a “significant milestone” for the fledgling profession.
Just six months since the new role officially joined the health and care workforce in England, the NMC announced on Friday that over 1,000 nursing associates are now on its register.
“That 1,000 nursing associates have now registered with the NMC represents a significant milestone”
Andrea Sutcliffe, NMC chief executive and registrar, said she was “thrilled” to be celebrating the milestone, especially at a time when the contribution of all nursing and midwifery professionals was “so vital in meeting the needs of people who rely and depend on great health and care services”.
The nursing associate role was created to bridge the gap between healthcare assistants and registered nurses, and to offer new career opportunities to thousands of healthcare workers.
The regulator said the introduction of the new role formed a “vital strand” in plans to increase the NHS workforce, as announced on Monday as part of the Interim NHS People Plan.
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Based on latest figures, the NMC said the volume of nursing associates now registered showed the role had proved to be a popular opportunity for people wanting to choose or further their career in healthcare.
According to the regulator, 7,000 nursing associate students have begun training since the role was agreed in January 2017.
“We are delighted to have reached this significant milestone”
Ms Sutcliffe said: “Having had the pleasure of meeting many nursing associates, and students, across the country so far, I know how incredibly proud they are of their ability to make a difference for people – and I love seeing their dedication and enthusiasm for providing truly, holistic care.
“As trainees finish their courses I look forward to seeing more nursing associates joining the register and this wonderful new group of staff continue to grow, and be supported in their work, long into the future,” she said.
The government arms’-length body Health Education England aims to more than double the number of trainees and recruit a further 7,500 in 2019 as the programme continues to expand.
Chief executive at HEE, Professor Ian Cumming, said: “We are delighted to have reached this significant milestone, with hundreds more nursing associates set to join the register in the coming weeks.
“This shows the continuing appetite for this exciting new profession, developed by HEE, which not only strengthens patient care, but provides a wealth of new opportunities for our much-valued health and care workers,” he added.
Meanwhile, health minister Stephen Hammond said he was “delighted” that so many nursing associates had joined the register and hopes to see “thousands more” join the sector in coming years.
“Nursing associates have a crucial and unique role to play in delivering the NHS Long Term Plan by providing excellent, safe care to people and patients, and allowing nurses to focus on more specialised areas of treatment,” he said.
He added: “That 1,000 nursing associates have now registered with the NMC represents a significant milestone for this burgeoning workforce and our decision to make this role a regulated profession is recognition of the huge contribution they make to people and patients across healthcare settings.”