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‘Beware risk of replacing nurses with nursing associates’

Leading nurse academic’s warning over new nursing associate role.
Peter Griffiths

A leading nurse academic says the new nursing associate role should not be used to replace registered nurses.

The role, which will require two years training and involve hands-on care, is intended to sit between healthcare assistant and nurse.

Training is already underway for the first cohort of 1,000 nursing associates at 11 test sites in England. A further 1,000 will begin their course this year.

No evidence base

Speaking at Healthcare Conference UKs Safe Staffing Summit in Birmingham on 21 February, University of Southampton chair of health services research Peter Griffiths said: Theres a risk of replacing nurses with nurse associates; simply because the evidence does not exist for what may be likely to happen.

The union Unison has previously insisted nursing associates should not

A leading nurse academic says the new nursing associate role should not be used to replace registered nurses.


Peter Griffiths is concerned about use of the new nursing associate role.  Photo: Chris Balcombe

The role, which will require two years’ training and involve hands-on care, is intended to sit between healthcare assistant and nurse.

Training is already underway for the first cohort of 1,000 nursing associates at 11 test sites in England. A further 1,000 will begin their course this year.

No evidence base

Speaking at Healthcare Conference UK’s Safe Staffing Summit in Birmingham on 21 February, University of Southampton chair of health services research Peter Griffiths said: ‘There’s a risk of replacing nurses with nurse associates; simply because the evidence does not exist for what may be likely to happen.’

The union Unison has previously insisted nursing associates should not be used as a way of getting ‘nursing on the cheap’, while the RCN has expressed concern about the speed at which the role was being developed.

A support role

Yet England’s chief nursing officer Jane Cummings maintains that the new role will support nurses, freeing up their time to provide the assessments and care their job requires. She insists the role is not a replacement for registered professionals.

Professor Griffiths was involved in research published in November that found that patients were one fifth more likely to die in hospitals where nurses are replaced with lower-skilled nursing assistants.

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