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Under 500 new associates in training this year but recruitment ‘on track’, says NMC

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Just under 500 further trainee nursing associates have commenced programmes in England so far this year, with more than 4,000 expected to begin later in 2018, according to the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

The NMC’s assistant strategy director Emma Westcott, who revealed the figure at the regulator’s council meeting last week, said this indicated recruitment was “on track” to meet the government’s target of 5,000 during 2018.

“The numbers of places we know are going start in the year is somewhere up in the 4,000s…So that [5,000] target is on track to be met”

Emma Westcott

“Recruitment is underway. The secretary of state said there would be another 5,000 this year and I think I am right in saying there are already about just under 500 on the programme under that figure,” said Ms Westcott.

“I think the numbers of places we know are going start in the year is somewhere up in the 4,000s… so that target is on track to be met,” she later added.

However, national workforce planning body Health Education England has previously said it expected half to begin by April, and the remaining 2,500 to have begun programmes by September 2018.

HEE’s senior nursing policy manager, Sam Donohue, said at the NMC’s meeting last week that 4,100 nursing associate trainees had been “identified” for training – in addition to the 500 that had already started – for 2018.

She did not say whether HEE expected to reach its target of 2,500 by April, or its final goal of 5,000 beginning programmes by the autumn.

Nursing Times later asked the workforce body if it had any concerns about missing its final target.

“Health Education England is committed working with partners to recruit 5,000 additional nursing associate trainees in 2018”

HEE spokeswoman

A spokeswoman for HEE said: “Health Education England is committed working with partners to recruit 5,000 additional nursing associate trainees in 2018.”

The first cohort of 2,000 nursing associate trainees began on two-year pilot programmes at employers across England – the only UK country where the new role is being introduced – from January 2017.

At the NMC meeting last week, Ms Westcott noted there had been only a “minor” loss of people from the pilot training schemes.

From 2018 onwards, nursing associates trainees are expected learn through apprenticeships. In addition to the 5,000 extra this year, a further 7,500 were also announced by the health secretary for 2019.

At its latest meeting on 28 March, the NMC agreed to launch a consultation – due later this week – on its proposed standards of proficiency and training for the role.

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