News

Nursing associate role will reduce reliance on registered nurses, says England’s chief nurse

The new nursing associate role will reduce reliance on registered nurses in a health service subject to ‘severe pressures’, England's chief nurse has said.
Jane_Cummings

The new nursing associate role will reduce reliance on registered nurses in a health service subject to severe pressures, Englands chief nurse Jane Cummings has said.

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

The organisation also revealed it will roll out a second wave of 1,000 trainees after huge interest led providers to offer more course places.

Direct care

The nursing associate post was proposed by the government in 2015, and is designed to sit between those of 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.

In a

The new nursing associate role will reduce reliance on registered nurses in a health service subject to ‘severe pressures’, England’s chief nurse Jane Cummings has said.

Jane_Cummings
England's chief nurse Jane Cummings. Picture: Neil O’Connor

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

The organisation also revealed it will roll out a second wave of 1,000 trainees after ‘huge interest’ led providers to offer more course places. 

Direct care

The nursing associate post was proposed by the government in 2015, and is designed to sit between those of 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.

In a blog post welcoming the announcement, professor Cummings said: ‘We witness severe pressures throughout the system on a daily basis, with nursing, midwifery and care staff placed frequently at the front, middle and back end of those pressures.’

Complex needs

She added: ‘The nursing associate is not a registered nurse, but will undertake some of the duties that a registered nurse currently undertakes, enabling the registered nurse to spend more time on the assessment and care associated with complex needs and advances in treatments.

‘The role is designed to enhance the quality of personalised care, strengthen support to registered nursing staff, and reduce reliance on registered nurses to undertake elements of care that others can be trained to understand and do.’

‘The nursing associate is not a registered nurse, but will undertake some of the duties that a registered nurse currently undertakes’

Jane Cummings

The union Unison has said the new nursing associate role 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.

Career prospects

Unison head of health Christina McAnea last week said many HCAs were currently doing the jobs of nurses while being paid much less, and the new role could help them make a step up.

‘These new roles could help improve the career prospects of existing healthcare assistants who already provide vital support to the NHS,’ she added.

‘But they should not be seen simply as another cheap alternative to registered nurses.’


Further information

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

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursing standard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • Monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs