News

03.06.15

Head of HEE suggests new ‘nursing associate’ role

A new position of ‘nursing associate’ could be created to address the chronic shortage of nurses facing the health service, the head of Health Education England has suggested.

Speaking to the Guardian, Ian Cumming said that people in this new role would nurse patients, with an expanded skillset compared to the healthcare support worker, but working under the supervision of a registered nurse.

“The NHS is telling us that they want and need something in the middle, something between a healthcare support worker and a registered nurse,” he said.

Training for the new role would take 18-24 months, compared to three years for a nursing degree.

Unions have responded hesitantly to the idea, but have not dismissed it out of hand.

Dr Peter Carter, outgoing general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, told the Guardian the proposal was interesting. But he added: “There’s overwhelming evidence that patients have better outcomes when they are cared for by graduate nurses, and any proposals must avoid diluting the skill mix of staff, which would have an impact on patient care.” 

Christina McAnea, head of health at Unison, said that the NHS should invest more in the skills of healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners who already deliver 60% of patient care.

She added that while training and development opportunities are welcome, roles with greater responsibilities would require higher pay levels.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

Comments

Fiona   03/06/2015 at 12:33

I think the comment from the exiting General Secretary of the RCN is a joke Patient outcomes are not better served by nurses who have been trained to degree level as a lot of the new nurses have no idea how to give basic care never mind any other care and now we are going to create for a better word Enrolled Nurses who were at one time the backbone of the Health Service. Now we need them again. I am a registered nurse but I was also an Enrolled Nurse before I took my General training and I enjoyed and still do the care I deliver and the skills and knowledge I have gained in my long career

Jon   03/06/2015 at 18:35

The shortage of qualified nursing staff is cripplining NHS and independent sector providers. Practical skills based care staff as the previous Enrolled Nurse but who can gain qualifications while continuing in the their workplace would be a much needed step forward. I think any the qualification system should be tiered so a nurse qualified in this way with appropriate experience and supervision would need to work under supervision in acute and complex care environments but more autonomously in care home environments for example. Any training should be portable and provide stepping stones towards full RN status for those who wish to do this. The gulf between a current RN and unregulated care assistants is unsustainable, particularly with post Stafford guidance requiring increasing levels of qualified nurses without the workforce or finances available to meet the requirements.

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