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‘Regulation is vital for all staff who administer drugs’


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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Readers' comments (8)

  • Absolutely spot on! There must be regulation and accountability; Registered nurses cannot be expected to be accountable for medications calculated and administered by someone else. It not only goes against the code of conduct, it goes against common sense. Nurses have been dragged through investigations and hearings at the hands of the NMC for the very thing that the government now says is acceptable. There is an appalling lack of respect on behalf of the government for every registered nurse in this country. Although unfortunately, it has become what we can expect of Jeremy Hunt et al.

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  • The NA role is a retrospective and poorly thought out role, whose only intent is to save money.
    We have Asst Practitioners who are band 4 who can't give meds, so how can we have two roles on the same wage but will vastly different responsibilities?.
    Also what career progression is there for NA's? And lastly how is the poor staff nurse supposed to find time for patients if they are monitoring NA's , HCA's, preceptees, and students?

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  • Assistant Practitioners must be regulated too! They administer drugs unsupervised and have been since 2001

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  • A terrible idea...

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  • The multiple roles are becoming a joke, are they new roles or rebranding of old ones? Even those in the profession are confused, Registration needs to be mandatory for all staff working in health and care (including management). Accountability cannot be inequitable any longer, where clinical professionals are sold down the river as scapegoats for the actions of other staff which endanger or harm patients/service users.

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  • Most of the individuals who are training to undertake band 4 roles want registration. Many of us feel that regulation will provide clear guidelines as to the parameters of the role and that it will help to provide consistency. Even without registration we are still responsible for our own actions though, if we agree to carry out a task for which we have no training and know we are not competent to do, we are accountable for that.

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  • Why not start training enrolled nurses again to work with Registered Nurses? Why were they phased out in the first place and only to introduce Nurse associate roles years later? Nursing on the cheap,is it not?

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  • When there is a shortage of a particular drug. Can some one tell me whose responsibility is it to ensure a home bound patient receives that particular drug, when it is not redially available.

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