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Professional Regulation

Nursing associates are the future but ‘not as a substitute for nurses’

Over four-hundred nursing associates have joined the register in the past two months. 

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Andrea Sutcliffe NMC Unison
Stewart Robinson

Over four-hundred nursing associates have joined the register in the past two months.

Speaking at UNISON’s Annual Health Conference, the recently appointed Chief Executive and Registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) reassured members that while nursing associates are the future and “a valued part of the team” their purpose was to work alongside and support nurses rather than being a substitute.

In her speech, Andrea Sutcliffe announced the development of the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s new five-year strategy in which the regulator seeks to “understand the context” understand the context in which nurses, midwives and nursing associates are working and examine the pressures that affect staff.

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“I would like to invite all of you to be part of the conversation that we want to generate over the next year as we develop our strategy for 2020 through to 2025,” she said.

Reflecting on the past five years, she said; “We have refreshed the code, we introduced revalidation and we developed the new standards for nurses, we’re out for consultation on the new standards for midwives.”

Looking forward, she continued; “I just wanted to pick out two of the areas we have been working on which will take us into the future in a new way.

‘Working alongside and supporting nurses’.

“The first is the introduction of Nursing Associates onto the register in January of this year. I’ve been to a number of sessions already in my short time at the Nursing and Midwifery Council where I’ve met nursing associates – either those in training or those who have recently graduated and got their cherished PIN number.

“The pride they have in the job that they are doing is tangible. It drips out of their fingertips, and it is amazing. And they are a fantastic addition to the team that is looking after people across the health service in England.”

Reassuring nurses, Ms Sutcliffe added; “I would say just one thing to be absolutely clear; nursing associates are not there to substitute for nurses. They are there to be a valued part of the team, working alongside and supporting nurses to make sure that people are using services, get the best and safest possible care.

“And we have already got over 400 on the register even though we only opened it just over two months ago. So it’s a fantastic achievement for those people who have got there.”

Ms Sutcliffe went on to discuss proposed changes to the Fitness to Practice strategy, saying “We think it is not good enough for a regulator to wait until things have gone wrong before we start to intervene, before we start to provide support and help to people working in health and social care.”

Professional Regulation

NMC launches an emotional support helpline for staff involved in fitness to practise cases

The helpline is part of the NMC’s bid to become a “person-centred” regulator.

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The helpline will provide emotional and practical support for staff involved in the fitness to practise processes.

Nurses, midwives and nursing associates involved in fitness to practise can now benefit from a new, free and confidential support service.

The NMC’s Careline, operated by an independent provider, will provide emotional and practical support is also available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for nurses and midwives across the UK, and nursing associates in England, who are involved in the fitness to practise processes.

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Staff can contact the service via phone, live chat or email, to discuss concerns with specially trained counsellors who are experienced in handling sensitive topics.

Launching less than a year since the NMC set up its support service for members of the public who raise concerns when things go wrong with their nursing or midwifery care, the 12-month CareLine pilot launched on World Mental Health day.

Becoming a ‘person-centred’ regulator.

Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Executive and Registrar at the NMC, said: “Following the launch last year of our Public Support Service for people affected by poor nursing or midwifery care, I’m really pleased we’re now able to offer this new pilot resource for professionals.

“The Careline marks another important step forward in truly humanising how we operate and becoming the person-centred professional regulator that the NMC is determined to be with everyone we interact with.

“Less than one per cent of around 700,000 professionals on our register are engaged in our fitness to practise procedures, but we know that it can have a profound effect on those that are. The impact on someone’s physical and mental wellbeing as a result of being under such scrutiny mustn’t go unrecognised.

“I hope the Careline, and our forthcoming remediation guidance, further encourages support and learning when things do go wrong in nursing and midwifery care. Together, let’s help ensure that all those involved in our processes are treated with kindness and respect.”

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Professional Regulation

NMC to ensure overseas nurses can ‘join the register quickly as possible’

Overseas nurses will now be able to apply to join the register through an online system.

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Nurse chest child

The Nursing and Midwifery Council say they have streamlined the process for overseas nurses.

From today, nurses and midwives applying to join the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register will now be able to apply through an online system allowing them to track their progress instantly.

This follows a number of changes in recent years made by the NMC to better support applicants through the registration process, which included allowing candidates to only re-sit only the portion of an OSCE they failed, improved preparation materials including a mock examination and marking criteria and updated English language requirements.

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As part of the professional regulator’s commitment to improving its approach to overseas registration, the latest changes have been designed to offer a more efficient and streamlined experience and help ensure qualified nursing and midwifery professionals can get into practice where they are needed.

‘Join the UK workforce as quickly as possible’.

According to the NMC, these changes will ensure that highly-skilled nursing and midwifery professionals can join the UK workforce as quickly as possible in order to carry out their role of delivering better, safer care for people using health and care services.

Emma Broadbent, Director of Registration and Revalidation at the NMC, said: “We have listened to people’s feedback and I’m pleased to announce that from today nurses, midwives and nursing associates from abroad will benefit from this improved process.

“We want to make sure that those who meet our requirements are able to join our register as quickly and efficiently as possible. We are hopeful that by simplifying the application process, we will continue to make the UK an attractive option for those coming from abroad.

“This is another example of how the NMC is committed to positively addressing nursing and midwifery shortages that exist in health services, adult social care services and within local communities across the UK.”

Making nurses ‘feel as welcome as possible’.

The NMC says it has seen a significant increase – rising from 2,720 last year to 6,157 in March this year – in the number of nurses and midwives joining the register for the first time from outside of the EU.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock said: “Nursing and midwifery is at the heart of our NHS and the social care sector, and it is important that we make those joining the health service, whether from at home or abroad, feel as welcome as possible.

“With an increasing number of applicants from around the world, this secure and efficient online service from the NMC will make it quicker for highly trained midwives, nurses and nursing associates to be able to provide compassionate care to their patients.”

“My grandmother worked in the NHS as a nurse, and I so know just how much commitment nurses put in to caring for their patients every day and night.”

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