Nursing associates claim many have a ‘poor understanding’ and feel ‘threatened’ by the role

Health Education England say the nursing associate role is designed to “bridge the gap” between healthcare assistants and registered nurses.

Ian Snug
8 August 2018
nurse on ward

An evaluation commissioned by Health Education England has revealed the key challenges trainee nursing associates have faced.

The evaluation, which was commissioned by Health Education England in 2017, takes an independent look at the pilot-sites for the new controversial role.


A survey revealed that key challenges for the trainee nursing associates have been; acceptance of the Nursing Associate role by other professionals, poor understanding and awareness of the role and being perceived as a threat to other roles such as nurses and assistant practitioners. The report also states that “a lack of clear parameters for the role meant TNAs are not always sure about what tasks that they could and could not do“.

Several positives were also highlighted including nursing associates being able to free up nurses, the improvement of patient care and “evidence that TNAs are moving away from a task-based role, and towards a role that is more patient- and outcomes-focused.”

The role was introduced in 2017 by Health Education England who say the nursing associate role is designed to “bridge the gap” which sits between healthcare assistants and registered nurses. Considerable interest was shown in the programme with around 8,000 applicants for 2,000 pilot places.

In July, the Royal College of Nursing warned that the lack of clarity of continuity of the role ‘could jeopardise patient care’. 


‘More need to be done to raise awareness about nursing associates’.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council formally agreed to regulate the nursing associate role in January 2017.

Geraldine Walters, Director of Education and Standards at the Nursing and Midwifery Council, said; “This report demonstrates the motivation of trainee nursing associates to learn and develop their skills and experience, and support registered nurses to perform their role more effectively so that together the two roles can provide the best care for patients.”

“It’s also pleasing that many trainees value the programme because this has given them an opportunity to access higher education, which was previously not an option open to them, with many hoping to progress to becoming a graduate registered nurse in the future.”

“More needs to be done to raise awareness of the nursing associate role and to ensure that the workload of trainees is appropriately managed.”


“We’ll continue work closely with HEE and our other partners to ensure this role is properly understood and successfully implemented and we look forward to welcoming the first qualified nursing associates on to our register in January 2019.”

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