Last week’s revelations about the proposed scope of practice for nursing associates should put more pressure on the government to announce its intentions for the role – and fast.
Its silence on the subject is igniting the highly flammable cocktail of fear and stress in a profession that is already undervalued and overworked.
The biggest concern expressed by many nurses is that the new role’s responsibilities will include medicines management. A document outlining the curriculum, leaked to Nursing Times’ sister title Health Service Journal last week, confirmed this is intended to be part of the scope of practice (read the story here), thereby compounding the fears of many. And while many directors of nursing I have spoken with are adamant the role must include drug administration to be of any use to them, some registered nurses feel this would undermine their own role.
”It seems to me that if administering drugs is part of the nursing associate’s practice, then regulation is non-negotiable”
It seems to me that if administering drugs is part of the nursing associate’s practice, then regulation is non-negotiable. Without it, there will be no standards set for training or education, and no defined scope of practice – or consequences to stop poor practice.
For the sake of patient safety, nursing associates must be regulated, they must take responsibility for their own practice, be accountable and comply with their own Code of Conduct.
Their standards of practice cannot be defined by individual employers.
”It seems to me the government’s modus operandi when dealing with nurses is to bring in unpopular changes swiftly”
Why won’t the government just say what the role will entail and who will regulate it so the profession can get on with making sensible decisions about how nursing associates can safely practise alongside nurses, ensuring both roles support high-quality, safe patient care?
It seems to me the government’s modus operandi when dealing with nurses is to bring in unpopular changes swiftly, paying only lip service to consultation. We saw this with the removal of the bursary. Now it seems to be repeating its wall of silence with the nursing associate role, paying little attention to the expertise of the profession and patients’ needs. It should be open, welcoming debate and consulting on its plans.
Jeremy Hunt et al, if you are going to make such major changes to nursing, at least have the manners to be open about them – and bring on board the views of those who might, just might, be able to help you do it safely and effectively.
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