First nursing associates join NMC register today in England

Health minister Stephen Hammond says their valuable skills will improve patient care

Health minister Stephen Hammond says their valuable skills will improve patient care

Picture: iStock

The first nursing associates join the nursing regulator’s register today, having qualified for practice in England after two years of training.

Around 1,800 nursing associates are expected to qualify in the next few months, according to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), although Health Education England (HEE) has not confirmed precise figures.

Skills gap

The band 4 nursing associate role was created in 2016 to bridge a skills gap between unregulated healthcare assistants and registered nurses.

They will work in hospital and community settings to support nurses, freeing them up to carry out more complex care.

The government estimates that around 40% of nursing associates will continue training, with the aim of becoming registered nurses.

Pioneering spirit

Former healthcare assistant Emily Burton qualified as a nursing associate on 24 January.

She is looking forward to mentoring a new trainee at her place of work, the Amber Care nursing home in Lincolnshire, and putting her new skills into practice.

Ms Burton said of her course: ‘It was very exciting – especially thinking that I was one of the first people to do it.’

Essential role

Nursing and government officials marked the occasion today with positive messages. 

Chief nursing officer for England Ruth May said: ‘I would like to welcome the first nursing associates into the workforce, who will play an essential role in patient care and in supporting the entire nursing profession.’

‘Exciting milestone’

Health minister Stephen Hammond said: ‘Today marks an exciting milestone with the start of thousands of nursing associates joining the NHS over the coming years – bringing with them valuable skills that will have a hugely beneficial impact on patients.

Andrea Sutcliffe, chief executive
of the NMC.

‘They will support nurses to deliver safe, high-quality care, crucially freeing up nurses’ time to focus on more specialised areas of patient treatment.’

NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said: ‘The high standards that we set will ensure that this new profession plays a vital role in supporting registered nurses, promoting health and well-being, and improving safety and the quality of care in England in the years to come.’

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