The Government has today announced that it plans to introduce a "Nursing Associate" role to help bridge the gap between trained Nurses and healthcare assistants / support staff.
Over a thousands perspective candidates are expected to start their "hands-on" training in early 2017 which will culminate in a foundation degree.
According to the Department of Health, "Nursing Associates" will provide "hands-on" care allowing Nurses to spend increasing time on clinical duties and take more of a lead in decisions about patient care alongside medics. It is yet to be confirmed if these staff will be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
The Government plan a full consultation on the position, including the provisional title of “nursing associate”, which will begin in the New Year, led by national workforce planning body Health Education England
Health Minister, Ben Gummer said: “Hard-working NHS staff are the lifeblood of the NHS and with an ageing population and changing patient needs, it is vital that we look at new ways to help staff deliver high quality, safe care across the week".
Directors of Nursing have declared their support for the idea, but the RCN has warned that it would be a “retrograde step” that risked creating a “second-level” role similar to the former state-enrolled nurses (SEN).
Although their role has yet to be fully explained, it has been speculated that the "Nursing Associate" role will be similar to that of an "Associate Practitioner" or "AP" and will be paid as Band 4 after training has completed.
The NMC has released a statement regarding the announcement of Nursing Associates, you can read it in full here. They prompt the government to take special consideration to "whether nursing associates should be regulated" and "it will be important that any new routes into the profession have the same robust approach that the existing university degree route provides".
You can view the Department of Health's Infographic on 'Route into Nursing', which was released following the announcement explaining how Nursing Associates can "top-up" to a degree in order to obtain NMC Registration.