Concerns expressed over new nurse associate role

NHS Employers concerned that proposed nurse associate title could be confused with nurses or healthcare assistants

People using the proposed nurse associate title could be confused with assistant practitioners or nurses, NHS Employers has warned.

Views from NHS Employers and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) were filed in response to a consultation on the nurse associate role, proposed by Health Education England (HEE).

HEE wants to create nurse associates on band 4, sitting between healthcare assistants and nurses.

After liaising with senior HR directors, NHS Employers chief executive Daniel Mortimer said there needs to be clarity about the purpose of nursing associates and the contribution they will make to patient care.

‘Employers believe there is the potential for this role to be confused (by staff, patients and employers) with the current assistant practitioner role. Employers were unclear whether this is a new role or a rebranding of the assistant practitioner role,’ Mr Mortimer said.

He stressed that the new post must fit in with the future vision for the NHS workforce and that it could provide an alternative pathway to undergraduate nursing programmes.

But he stated: ‘Having “nursing” in the title has the potential to limit the remit of the role. If the title did contain “nursing” then accountability and how tasks are delegated from nurses would need to be clearly outlined.’

Mr Mortimer added that some employers felt that the role could free up more time for nurses to carry out specialised nursing duties and that nurse associates had the potential to supervise and mentor healthcare assistants. Employers also felt nurse associates should be able to assist in administration of medicines.

However, there was no clear consensus from employers on whether the role should be regulated.

The NMC also stressed the need for clarity in the job title so patients understand that this role would be different from a graduate nurse and which nurse associates are apprentices.

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