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Readers’ panel: Is the introduction of nursing associates undermining graduate nurses?

The nursing associate role is intended to bridge the gap between healthcare assistants and qualified nurses. With the first 1,000 due to start training at 11 sites in England from this month, Nursing Standard readers’ panellists have their say on this controversial role. 
nurse associate

The nursing associate role is intended to bridge the gap between healthcare assistants and qualified nurses. With the first 1,000 due to start training at 11 sites in England from this month, Nursing Standard readers panellists have their say on this controversial role

Jane Scullion is a respiratory nurse consultant in Leicester @JaneScullion

Graduate nurses impact positively on care quality and safety and reduce morbidity and mortality. That is a fact. It is also a fact that, because of their numbers, registered nurses are a financial pressure on the NHS, and an easy target for pay restraint and changes to working practices. At the end of the day, you get what you pay for. The question in this litigious age is who will bear

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The nursing associate role is intended to bridge the gap between healthcare assistants and qualified nurses. With the first 1,000 due to start training at 11 sites in England from this month, Nursing Standard readers’ panellists have their say on this controversial role


The nursing associate role is intended to bridge the gap between HCAs and registered nurses. Picture: Alamy

Jane Scullion is a respiratory nurse consultant in Leicester
@JaneScullion 

Jane Scullion

Graduate nurses impact positively on care quality and safety and reduce morbidity and mortality. That is a fact. It is also a fact that, because of their numbers, registered nurses are a financial pressure on the NHS, and an easy target for pay restraint and changes to working practices. At the end of the day, you get what you pay for. The question in this litigious age is who will bear ultimate responsibility for nursing associates’ practice? 


Daniel Athey is a staff nurse on an acute medical unit in Sheffield
@danjathey 

Daniel Athey
Regardless of what they are called – assistant practitioners, nursing associates – they are a quick fix to the long-term problem of nursing shortages. While they may undertake nursing roles, they do not replace registered nurses, whose numbers are diminishing. I commend people for wanting to better themselves and progress their careers, and this is an excellent opportunity for healthcare assistants, but it comes at a price for registered nurses.


Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse in London 

Rachel Kent

The nursing associate role has supposedly been designed to ‘bridge the gap’ between nurses and support workers. But I haven’t seen a need to bridge a skills gap, just a need for more staff. I still don’t fully understand the difference between a registered nurse and a nursing associate, except for the contentious registration issue. Perhaps nursing associates could take on some of the paperwork I spend most of my time doing, so that I have more time to care for my patients? 
 


Lauren Ferrier is a mental health nursing student in Scotland 

Lauren Ferrier

At present there are no plans to introduce the nursing associate role in Scotland. I would question how suitable it would be in mental health settings anyway, and will be interested to see the results from the mental health test sites in England. Mental health nursing is highly specialised, with the core role of a mental health nurse being to provide therapeutic patient care. This cannot be translated in to a 2-year course. Ultimately, I think the introduction of nursing associates into mental health would be fruitless.


Readers’ panel members give their views in a personal capacity only 

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