Nursing associate training numbers get a further boost

HEE say they plan to train 45,000 nursing associates by 2027 with around 17,000 going on to become Registered Nurses.

Ian Snug
14 March 2019
Nursing associate with patient

Health bosses claim the role plays an important part in delivering the NHS Long Term Plan.

Health Education England (HEE) intends to spend an extra £42 million this year on further increasing the number of nursing associates in training, according to England’s Chief Nursing Officer.


The nursing associate role was designed by HEE to bridge the gap between care assistants and registered nurses helping to provide hands-on care for patients.

Health bosses have previously claimed the role plays an important part in ensuring the NHS has the workforce required to deliver the NHS Long Term Plan.

HEE have previously said they plan to train 45,000 nursing associates by 2027 with around 17,000 going on to become Registered Nurses via the new nursing apprenticeship route.

‘No substitute for graduate nurses’.

Ruth May, England’s Chief Nursing Officer, pledged to further expand training numbers at her annual summit yesterday.


This pledge comes despite Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England, claiming there is “no substitute” for graduate nurses and promising a “meaningful expansion” in undergraduate nursing numbers.

In a speech at the summit yesterday, he said; “We have got to see a meaningful expansion of undergraduate nurses. There’s no substitute. Even despite the fact we are going to have wonderful nursing associates and new routes into nursing, there’s no substitute for graduate nurses and we have obviously seen this big fall in the number of applications for undergraduate nursing”.

Professor Ian Cumming, Chief Executive of HEE, said that “thousands” of aspiring nursing associates were turned away last year as they failed to meet the required numeracy and literacy criteria.

‘Supporting registered nurses’.

Steph Aiken, the RCN’s Associate Director of Nursing for Education and Learning, said: “Nursing associates are a new addition to the clinical workforce in England, supporting registered nurses to provide safe and effective care. The role offers career progression for support staff as well as providing a new route to become a registered nurse.


“This is a valuable support role designed to work as part of the wider clinical team, however it is not a replacement for a registered nurse.

“With England facing a clear shortage of registered nurses, it is vital that employers do not attempt to fill any gaps with nursing associates. Nursing associates should never be asked to act outside their remit. This risks putting undue pressure on individuals,  who must not be made to carry out duties that fall outside their regulated role. This would be unfair and could potentially threaten patient safety.

“The RCN is calling for accountability for safe staffing to be enshrined in law to ensure we have the right number of nurses with the right skills in the right place to ensure patients receive the treatment they deserve’

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