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1,000 more nursing associates to assist nurses

Tagged In:  Nursing

1,000 nursing associates are set to join the healthcare workforce in 2019. In 2015, Raising the Bar, the Shape of Caring review, recommended that Health Education England (HEE) should explore the development of a defined care role to act as a bridge between health support workers and fully qualified registered nurses.

Following extensive consultation and planning, that role became a reality in January as 1,000 new nursing associates began their training. Huge interest in the role and support from training providers has resulted in a further 1,000 places being created, to be made available later this year.

In January the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) formally agreed to be the regulator for the new nursing associate role. The NHC is working closely with HEE, which is running training pilots in 11 test sites across the UK, partnering NHS trusts with educational establishments. A full list of the test sites is available here.

Nursing associates will deliver care in a range of primary, secondary, community and social care settings. The NMC has confirmed that they will support, not replace, registered nurses, who will 'continue to be the primary assessors, planners and evaluators of care'.
"The new role also has clear benefits for registered nurses," said Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England, "providing additional support and releasing time to provide the assessment and care they are trained to do, as well as undertake more advanced tasks. This will ensure we use the right skills in the right place and at the right time."

"Nursing Associates will be trained to work independently under both the direct and indirect supervision of the registered nurse," explained Professor Lisa Baylis Pratt, HEE's Director of Nursing. "This will realise their full potential as valued members of the nursing team. Any independent work will be within defined parameters of practice, within their competence, their training and the responsibility and authority given by a Registered Nurse in line with nursing practice in delegation and accountability."

NHS Employers believes that the new nursing associate role, as part of a multi-disciplinary approach, could help address some of the workforce supply challenges facing the NHS. In July last year, research by the Institute for Employment Studies highlighted the scale of the challenge, with one in three nurses due to retire in the next 10 years and not enough new nurses joining the workforce to fill the gap or offset the loss of skills and experience.

"For those experienced care assistants who wish to enter nursing, the system needs to recognise the benefits they can bring to the nursing profession, " wrote Lord Willis in his introduction to the Shape of Caring review. "This is not to undermine the quality or the academic achievement of the graduate nurses, but to say that, as long as care assistants meet the standards of entry and follow a clear education and career pathway, there are ways to develop a local ‘home-grown’ workforce."

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