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Exclusive: New associate nurse role backed by most registrants


The majority of registrants support the creation of a “bridging role” between nurses and healthcare assistants, according to results from our annual survey.

As exclusively revealed by Nursing Times in November, an official announcement is expected soon on plans to introduce a new nursing role designed to bridge the gap between registered nurses and senior HCAs.

An announcement on the creation of the new role is expected to be followed by a consultation shortly afterwards. Nursing Times understands the role will be assigned to band 4 and is expected to be given the title “associate nurse”.

NT annual survey 2015

Creation of new associate nurse role backed by most registrants

Source: Jennifer Van Schoor

Many directors of nursing have declared their support for the idea, but the Royal College of Nursing has warned that it would be a “retrograde step” that risked creating a “second-level” role similar to the former state-enrolled nurses.

However, in our survey of nearly 1,000 nurses, 47.5% of respondents said they welcomed the move, 36% said they were currently unsure about it and only 16.5% said they were opposed.

Asked what would result from the creation of the new role, most said it would both help develop the skills of HCAs and provide more support for nurses.

However, many also warned that it would create “nurses on the cheap” and that it marked a return to state-enrolled nurses.

  • Our annual survey gives a snapshot of the workforce issues currently facing the profession. Look out for more exclusive stories from our annual survey during the rest of the week.

Readers' comments (17)

  • As a nurse trainer I already see a decline in what most would think of as basic nursing skills in trained nurses. Senior carers and HCA's are taking on more and more of these roles so nurses can focus on the administrative side of care and as such nurses are losing their clinical roles. This band 4 role sounds like another step towards the removal of clinical nurses to care administrators however, in spite of this, I am sure we will still retain the clinical accountability associated with being NMC registrants ........

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  • Is 950 a representative sample of all nurses in all fields in all workplaces?

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  • As a nurse who qualified more than 30 years ago and has seen the demise of the SEN and progression of registered nurses being graduate only I welcome this idea, so long as associate nurses are regulated by the NMC. It may be that the profession has gone full circle but so what if we are to have an SEN equivalent branch? Many potential excellent nurses were lost when we became a graduate-only profession. By all means make progression from HCA to Associate Nurse to Graduate Nurse easier; people can travel up the pyramid at their own speed, inclination or to their own ability. I think it was the Briggs Report that suggested something like this back in the 70s/80s...Nursing has changed; we now take on responsibilities that would have been unthinkable be when I was a girl! There are many fantastic HCAs out there but they have variable training and are not regulated and I think this is a problem. Like I say, times change and we must change with them. Where I am now, professionally, is a million miles away from where I was when I first qualified. Indeed my training and education has continued through my 35 years of service (I completed my degree a few nears ago). It just makes me smile that some how the idea of a new associate nurse seems strangely familiar...what goes round comes round!

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  • What I see is fast track sort of training which would lead to more litigation. Look at ODP training is is well below international standards in comparison to other countries.

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  • i have a diploma, no intention of topping up to a degree. does this mean i will do the same job for 6k a year less?

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  • The two biggest problems for the former SEN were exploitation - being paid less, expected to take same responsibility - and inability to progress in career. First was mainly because there was too little difference between EN and RN, exacerbated by second. Need to ensure these are solved when designed new Associate role.

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  • The enrolled nurse position should never have gone. It prevented many people entering the profession as it became far too academic.
    Providing the associate role comes under NMC registration it can only help us to attract those who see nursing as a vocation. No doubt I will be shot down in flames for that statement but we have to admit something has gone very wrong and it's not just finance.

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  • As a former EN, I can only say that the reality was very different. I was left in charge of wards on a regular basis and used to fill staffing gaps in many areas. When there was no one else around, as a competent practitioner, I was frequently left to perform duties of a level 1 nurse. All the while, my salary was well below that of my level 1 colleagues. In my opinion this is a backward step for nursing.

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  • I'm confused. So what is the difference between current Assistant Practitioners and this new Associate Nurse role? I can only think of one and that is regulation by the NMC (I may be wrong on this). Ok maybe two - difference in names!

    I may be wrong but I thought Assistant Practitioners are currently on band 4?

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  • dtbarron

    New Associate Nurse role backed by 'most' registrant - since when was 47.5% equivalent to most?

    Is NTs stance that if you don't actively oppose something then you must be for it? I thought that was the kind of nonsense our politician spin to us - I would have thought your stance may have had a greater degree of accuracy in interpretation rather than spin #disappointed

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