Fast-tracked nursing role to release clinical time for registered staff

The government has created a new route into registered nursing through a new ‘nursing support role’, provisionally called nursing associates, which will function alongside healthcare support workers and fully-qualified nurses.

Created by health minister Ben Gummer, the role is expected to plug the gap between healthcare support workers with a care certificated and registered nurses.

Staff trained through this route will learn on the job via an apprenticeship, later leading to a foundation degree. The government will then at opportunities for nursing associates to progress to become a registered nurse – either through a degree-level nurse apprenticeship or a shortened nursing degree at university.

“This new role, and the opportunity it offers for those who want to progress to a registered nurse, will open up a career in nursing for thousands of people from all backgrounds,” Gummer said.

“Along with the recent changes to student funding, which will enable universities to offer up to 10,000 additional training places over this parliament, we will ensure the profession is accessible for all those with the skills, values and ambition to choose nursing. We will consult widely in the new year as we want to ensure nursing apprenticeships and this new post are correctly formed.”

Nursing associates will be able to deliver hands-on care, allowing nurses to spend more time using their specialist training to focus on clinical duties and take “more of a lead” in decisions about patient care.

Individual NHS employers will be able to decide how many nursing associates they need in their organisation – but, subject to consultation, the government expects that up to 1,000 people could be trained from 2016.

Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England, said: “Health and care assistants are a really important part of the team and should be given the opportunity to develop, which is why we continue to work with Health Education England and the Nursing and Midwifery Council on the development of a tangible career path.

“This new role will provide a valuable addition to this work by creating a bridge between senior health and care assistants and registered nurses. It will also benefit registered nurses by providing additional support in meeting the needs of our patients.”

There will a consultation on all the specific details of this role, including the title, with representatives from the nursing profession – such as the royal colleges and union representatives – in the new year.

But it seems like the proposal has already been received positively, with Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, saying it is a “welcome recognition of the value of healthcare assistants” and “an initiative which will allow them to develop their skills”.

“Some of these roles will be new but part of this initiative is about enabling people in unregulated positions, supporting registered nurses, to access training via a clear structure, and this is very welcome. These nursing associate roles should release time for our nurses to care and to utilise their clinical skills appropriately,” she continued.

“A registered nurse is a clinical decision-maker, with degree-level knowledge and skills, considerable experience of caring for people with multiple or complex conditions, plus the ability to supervise and educate more junior staff. These new roles will assist those graduate nurses and give a route into the profession to people who would otherwise have been denied the opportunity.”

Davies said the royal college would respond in full to the consultation to make sure the new role is fully funded without detracting from the wider NHS workforce.


Steve Corrall   21/12/2015 at 15:22

And so life goes full circle. Will this not be returning us to the role of enrolled nurse per say. Should never have got rid of the role in the first place. Enrolled nurses had a place with the NHS which achieves exactly what the minister wants.

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