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Nursing and Midwifery Council on course to become nursing associate regulator

Extension of NMC’s remit to include nursing associates now requires change in the law

Extension of NMC’s remit to include nursing associates now requires change in the law


Jackie Smith. Picture: Barney Newman

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has received government support to take on the regulation of England’s new nursing associate role.

Parliament will now be required to approve a change in the law that would extend the NMC's regulatory remit to nursing associates. 

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) announced it backed the NMC as nursing associate regulator but said more work needs to be done on defining the role, which will fill the gap between healthcare assistants and registered nurses.

Landmark moment

NMC chief executive Jackie Smith urged the government to push ahead now with the reforms.

‘It’s clear there’s widespread support for the proposed approach to regulation and, while there’s still more work to be done, today is a landmark,’ she said.

‘It’s critical that the government now pushes forward with these changes to enable us to open the nursing associate part of the register on time.’

The DH launched its consultation on the issue in October 2017 and received 470 responses from individuals and organisations.

Issues addressed in consultation 

  • Where nursing associates should fit in the NMC’s structure
  • Whether the NMC could grant nursing associates prescribing powers during a national emergency, such as a flu epidemic
  • Making it an offence to claim to be a nursing associate without being registered with the NMC

Concerns were raised during the consultation over the definition of the nursing associate role.

The DH consultation response says: ‘We do not want to set out a list of tasks which nursing associates can and cannot perform as we all believe this will be too restrictive.

‘However, on the basis of advice from the chief nursing officer, senior nurses at the department’s arm’s-length bodies, and other registered nursing professionals, the department agrees further guidance should be developed concerning the deployment of the role.’

It goes on to conclude nursing associates should not be the primary assessor of care but should provide care, monitor patients and recognise when it is necessary to refer to other professionals.

Guidance

DH guidance on how nursing associates will operate in practice is expected to be available by the time the first nursing associates are qualified and registered in January next year.

The NMC is currently running its own consultation on the role of nursing associates’ regulator. This consultation closes on 2 July.


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