NMC decides not to treat trainee nursing associates as supernumerary

The new approach allows trainee nursing associates to be included within staffing numbers.

Ian Snug
26 September 2018
students learning

A decision by the Nursing and Midwifery Council means that trainee nursing associates will not be entitled to supernumerary status.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has approved controversial proposals for an alternative approach to nursing associate training, which moves away from the traditional supernumerary status that is used for undergraduate nurses.


The new approach allows trainee nursing associates to be included within staffing numbers in order to “adequately safeguard patients”. Individual employers will work with education institutions, to identify when trainee nursing associate need supported learning time.

A survey completed by NursingNotes of 412 trainee nursing associates reveals that 91 per cent believe they would have ‘increased learning opportunities’ with a more traditional supernumerary status. 72% said they had missed learning opportunities because they were unable to be released from practice.

Only 1 in 20 respondents said they were classed as supernumerary in practice.

‘Meaningful education for trainee nursing associates’.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers said: “We welcome today’s announcement from the Nursing and Midwifery Council. We believe this is a very positive step that will enable the service to provide meaningful education for trainee nursing associates, and in turn, support the delivery of patient care of the highest standards of quality and safety.


“Many employers are enthusiastic about this new role and we believe the decisions announced today by the NMC will support the service to further scale up the development and deployment of nursing associates.”

At today’s council meeting the NMC also formally ratified the standards of proficiency for nursing associates and a range of other tools for regulating these new roles. View the council papers.

Geraldine Walters, director of education and standards at the NMC said: “We know just how important it is that students who are training ‘on the job’ have time away from their everyday duties to learn. We’re confident that the plans we’ve outlined today will not only support students to learn and keep patients safe but also work for employers too.”

The RCN has ‘significant’ concerns.

The Royal College of Nursing has said however that it is concerned about the change.


Donna Kinnair, acting Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “We have significant concerns around the NMC’s decision not to treat trainee nursing associates as supernumerary. The alternative protected learning time is ill-defined and without an overarching quality assurance framework, it is hard to see how nursing staff, educators and the public can be confident in this approach.

“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.”

The NMC became the regulator of nursing associates in July 2018, and as a result, the first nursing associates to qualify in January will join its register.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments