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'Associate nurses’ could ease the staffing crisis'

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It seems likely the regulation of band 4 healthcare assistants will go ahead.

Nursing Times has learnt that consultation on a new bridging role between healthcare assistants and nurses is expected to begin in January. At the moment the title of this role “associate nurse” is being argued over. Some feel it threatens the graduate nurse’s position and registered nurse status. Perhaps there is some work to be done in protecting the registered nurse title.

”Senior nurses who have been trying to make ends meet in the staffing rota will be celebrating”

Meanwhile, many directors of nursing, beleaguered by agency caps, on/off recruitment from outside the European Economic Area and a shortage of homegrown nurses are getting out their bunting as they at long last receive support to provide nursing care.

Those opposed to the new role are concerned about quality and  outcomes, but senior nurses who have been trying to make ends meet in the staffing rota will be celebrating.

When the Francis Report report was published in 2013, the government made generally positive noises. However, as far as its nursing recommendations are concerned, few have made it to the finishing line.

”Safe staffing is still somewhere in the ether”

Revalidation is finally coming in after something of a “stumble” in England. But safe staffing is still somewhere in the ether, with the most recent letter from the TDA, Monitor and NHS England suggesting 1:8 should be “a guide not a requirement”. But now it looks like another of Sir Robert’s 293 recommendations could be about to come to life.

Meanwhile, nursing students were told last week that bursaries would be scrapped from 2017. Many students struggle on the bursary, and being able to get a loan will give them more money while they study. However, they will also have more debt when they leave. And, if you’re a mature student, you might not want to be saddled with that debt, and perhaps if this is your second career choice, you might be unable to get a loan.

Exceptions are expected for these students, but as we went to press, no details had been confirmed. It would be a shame to deter the mature student from joining the profession. Universities are evidently happy and employers feel it will end the nursing shortage.

But we won’t know the impact on the number of students training until 2017, so it feels like a huge gamble at a time when we need to be sure we are training enough nurses.



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