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09.06.16

Nursing associate role must focus on integrated care, says HEE director

The newly created nursing associate role will be used to help provide care in the community and prevent people developing health problems, the director of nursing at Health Education England (HEE) told NHE.

Professor Lisa Bayliss-Pratt said that the newly created role, envisaged as somewhere between a care assistant and a registered nurse, would help deliver the vision of more integrated and preventative care set out in the Five Year Forward View.

“I think there are so many issues in relation to the current makeup of the nursing and care workforce,” she said, “and we certainly envisage that this role will complement the existing workforce and it will be a resource to the nursing and care arena, but it’s not just about hospitals and wards.

“It’s about primary care, communities and social care. So this is a role that needs to focus just as much on prevention and making every contact count, as well as doing core activities to look after people well and treat them with dignity, kindness and compassion.”

She said a recent Nuffield Trust report calling for restructuring of the NHS workforce showed “you can’t put people into silos”.

“People need to work across complex settings and look after people with complex conditions and therefore we need a flexible workforce to do that,” added Prof Bayliss-Pratt.

However, she said that the exact specifics of the role were not yet developed, and that HEE would hold a series of consultations throughout July to work out the best way to implement it.

“What we want to come up with is clear national standards and competencies for this role,” she said. “This is to ensure that it’s transferrable across organisations and settings, builds on the work of the Care Certificate and that it does things that are appropriate to ensure that the patients will be, most importantly, safe.”

In response to concerns that the role might undermine registered nurses or give them less time with patients, Prof Bayliss-Pratt admitted that further testing would be needed.

“There’s clearly an appetite for this role,” she said. “There is this sort of role happening in some places and what we want to do is understand the role. We want to be able to develop national standards and a curriculum around the role, and then we want to test it in a variety of settings to make sure that it actually does improve outcomes for patients, ensuring that it is a useful member to the nursing and care workforce and that it adds value, because if it doesn’t do any of those things then it isn’t worth introducing.”

(Image c. Health Education England)

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