nursing associates: a new role for those with nursing skills

We are all familiar with qualified nurses and health care assistants but now the Nursing and Midwifery Council (“NMC”) has agreed to become the regulatory body for a new role; that of the nursing associate.

In October 2015 the government announced that this new role was to be created with a view to ‘bridging the gap’ between healthcare assistants and registered nurses.

Recently, the Department of Health asked the NMC if it would agree to regulate not only nurses and midwives but also nursing associates. In January 2017, the NMC agreed, adding to its existing responsibilities in regulating the nursing and midwifery professions.

This new role is currently being developed by the NMC and Health Education England (“HEE”) with nursing associate pilot schemes are already in place.

Currently there are 35 test sites across England which will provide training for up to 2,000 nursing associates. Their training is due to commence early this year and the first graduates of this new scheme are expected to begin their new roles in 2019. These nursing associates will have foundation degrees but the NMC have made it clear that they will be expected to contribute to patient care whilst registered nurses will retain responsibility for being the primary assessors, planners and evaluators of patient care. Nursing associates are intended to support the care provided to patients by registered nurses but not to replace them.

Those people currently working in a healthcare assistant role are encouraged to speak to their employers in relation to career progression to nursing associate whilst those not already on the HEE funded pilot scheme will, according to the NMC, probably have to proceed down an apprenticeship route to nursing associate and the NMC hopes to begin work on this in the Spring.

It is also hoped that the new role of nursing associate will provide a new route to those wishing to become a registered nurse.

The creation of the role of nursing associate will mean increased numbers of regulated nursing professionals on the NMC register. When things go wrong, the NMC will investigate and can take action against your registration. If you are a nurse, a midwife or a soon to be nursing associate who requires advice in relation to the NMC, please give one of our specialist team a call on 0161 827 9500.