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Trainee nursing associates don’t have to be supernumerary, says NMC

RCN had wanted trainee nursing associates to additional to the workforce
nursing staff training

RCN had wanted trainee nursing associates to additional to the workforce

The RCN insisted trainee nursing associates should have supernumerary status to ensure they gain the necessary experience and skills to care for patients safely.

The college was responding to a decision last week by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) not to require employers in England to count trainee nursing associates, typically HCAs by background, as being additional to their established staffing. Some stakeholders had expressed concern about the affordability of nursing associate training if the trainees were to be given mandatory supernumerary status.

First cohort graduates shortly

The nursing associate role is designed to bridge the gap between healthcare assistants (HCAs) and registered nurses, with the first cohort graduating in January 2019.

RCN had wanted trainee nursing associates to additional to the workforce


Picture: iStock

The RCN insisted trainee nursing associates should have supernumerary status to ensure they gain the necessary experience and skills to care for patients safely. 

The college was responding to a decision last week by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) not to require employers in England to count trainee nursing associates, typically HCAs by background, as being additional to their established staffing. Some stakeholders had expressed concern about the affordability of nursing associate training if the trainees were to be given mandatory supernumerary status.

First cohort graduates shortly

The nursing associate role is designed to bridge the gap between healthcare assistants (HCAs) and registered nurses, with the first cohort graduating in January 2019.

Universities and employers will have to prove to the NMC that their trainee nursing associates:

  • Spend at least 20% of their time in the classroom.
  • Have a minimum of 20% protected time for placements in care settings beyond their own.
  • Achieve 2,300 hours of practice learning.

RCN acting general secretary Donna Kinnair: ‘There is a strong rationale that supernumerary status allows nursing staff to learn effectively and safely.

‘Any move away from this approach must be supported by robust evidence and planning.’

Fears about affordability for employers

NMC director of education and standards Geraldine Walters said a number of stakeholders had been worried about the consequences of making supernumerary status mandatory for trainee nursing associates.

NMC council papers reveal there were discussions with NHS Employers, the Department for Health and Social Care and Department for Education that gave regulator ‘soundly-based concerns about whether employers will invest in nursing associate apprenticeships if they are perceived to be too costly’.

The government’s apprenticeship levy is used to fund nursing associate training, and it cannot be used to backfill vacancies caused by having supernumerary trainees.


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