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Nursing associate pilot scheme numbers to double amid ‘huge interest’

The number of candidates to be trained in the new nursing associate role is set to double to 2,000, following ‘huge interest’ in the scheme
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The number of candidates to be trained in the new nursing associate role is set to double to 2,000, following huge interest in the scheme.

Health Education England (HEE) today announced the first 11 test sites, where 1,000 nursing associates will begin training in December.

But the organisaton revealed it will roll out a second wave of 1,000 trainees, after high demand led to providers offering more course places.

Concerns over role

The nursing associate post was first proposed by the government in 2015, and is designed to sit between healthcare assistants (HCAs) and registered nurses.

The role will provide fundamental aspects of direct care, but nursing associates will not independently review treatment plans, or evaluate progress to make decisions on care.

The number of candidates to be trained in the new nursing associate role is set to double to 2,000, following ‘huge interest’ in the scheme.


HEE director of nursing and deputy director of education and
quality, Lisa Bayliss Pratt. Picture: Barney Newman

Health Education England (HEE) today announced the first 11 test sites, where 1,000 nursing associates will begin training in December.

But the organisaton revealed it will roll out a second wave of 1,000 trainees, after high demand led to providers offering more course places. 

Concerns over role 

The nursing associate post was first proposed by the government in 2015, and is designed to sit between healthcare assistants (HCAs) and registered nurses.

The role will provide fundamental aspects of direct care, but nursing associates will not independently review treatment plans, or evaluate progress to make decisions on care.

Union Unison has previously said the new roles should not be used as a cheap way to replace registered nurses, while a consultation on the role earlier this year revealed concerns it could be seen as a ‘dumbing down’ of the profession.

But HEE said the role will bridge the gap between health and care support workers and qualified nurses, and will offer opportunities for HCAs to progress into nursing roles.

Trusts sign up

The eleven providers who will deliver the first wave of the two-year training programme are:

  • Barts Health NHS Trust.
  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Trust.
  • Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children Foundation Trust.
  •  Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
  • Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.
  • Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust.
  • St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust.
  • Whittington Health NHS Trust.

HEE received a total of 48 applications from organisations wanting to take part in the scheme.

HEE director of nursing and deputy director of education and quality Lisa Bayliss Pratt said: ‘I am delighted with the high level of interest and the quality of the applications received.

Support for nurses

‘It shows there is a real appetite for helping to deliver this new role, which we believe can provide a real benefit to the nursing and care workforce across a range of settings and is important in the delivery of patient care with safety at its heart.’

England's chief nurse Jane Cummings said: ‘It is important we build a workforce to meet the changing needs of the people we care for.’

‘The new role also has clear benefits for registered nurses, providing additional support and releasing time to provide the assessment and care they are trained to do, as well as undertake more advanced tasks. This will ensure we use the right skills in the right place and at the right time.’


Further information

Plans for nursing associate role gather pace

Call for employers to help test controversial nursing associate role

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