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Skill set for new nursing associates role revealed

Skill set for new nursing associates role revealed

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has outlined up to 90 skills it wants candidates signing up for the new role of nursing associate to be trained in.

Some 2,000 trainee nursing associates are currently half-way through their two-year training programmes for a role that is seen as bridging the gap between healthcare assistants and registered nursing staff.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced in October there will be a further 5000 nursing associate places in 2018, and 7500 in 2019, with Health Education England (HEE) - which shapes the training and education of healthcare professionals in England - planning to train a further 45,000 nursing associates before 2027.

What is a nursing associate?

A nursing associate is a new professional within the nursing team being introduced across health and social care settings in England only. It follows the Shape of Caring review in 2015, which identified a gap in care provision. From that, the Department of Health created the nursing associate role, which will also be viewed as a route for those who want to progress to become a registered nurse.

Wide ranging training for nursing associates

The NMC, which will register and regulate nursing associates, has identified 30 communication skills and 60 clinical procedures, including medicines management, drug calculations, and clinical assessment skills that nursing associates should be competent in.

The detailed list includes the ability to: manage the administration of oxygen; use appropriate nasal and oral suctioning techniques; manage inhalation, humidifier and nebuliser devices and airway and respiratory equipment; carry out drug calculations and administer drugs via oral, enteral, topical and inhalation routes and administer injections as well observe and reassess a patients’ skin and hygiene status.

Other skills required include being able to manage catheters and provide stoma care; record and interpret vital signs; complete and interpret urinalysis results and blood glucose results; undertake venepuncture and cannulation; administer basic mental health and physical first aid; and undertake wound care using aseptic techniques. A nursing associate will also be expected to capable in the management of end of life care patients, infection prevention and management. The NMC also wants nursing associates to have knowledge of common conditions including anxiety, depression, diabetes, dementia, asthma, cardiac disease, cancer, skin problems, stroke and arthritis.

However, it will be down to employers to determine how nursing associates are deployed

Adding a new dimension to patient care

Professor Jane Cummings (Chief Nursing Officer for England), Professor Lisa Bayliss-Pratt (Director of Nursing, Health Education England), Hilary Garratt (Director of Nursing, NHS England) and Ruth May (Executive Director of Nursing, NHS Improvement) have issued a joint statement on nursing associates.

They said: “This new role is not a move away from degree educated registered nurses, nor will it replace registered nurses. The nursing associate role is designed to bridge the gap between healthcare assistants and registered nurses in England. Nursing associates will deliver care, freeing up registered nurses to spend more time using their skills and knowledge to focus on complex clinical duties and take a lead in decisions on the management of patient care.”
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