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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.

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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“.

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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.”

Professional Regulation

NMC apologises after misleading Morecambe Bay investigators

Up to 19 babies and mothers died between 2004 and 2012 as a result of mistakes by staff.

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The regulator has apologised over how it handled a Fitness to Practice investigation.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has apologised over how it handled a Fitness to Practice (FtP) investigation following the tragic death of newborn Joshua Titcombe at Morecambe Bay.

The independent review by Verita was commissioned by the NMC after the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) raised concerns over how the regulator handled the fitness to practice investigation.

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The report was initially commissioned by Jeremy Hunt, the then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, after up to 19 babies and mothers died at the hospital between 2004 and 2012 as a result of mistakes by the staff of its maternity unit.

Jackie Smith, the former Chief Executive and Registrar of the NMC, resigned on the eve of the PSA report.

‘Incorrect and misleading statements’.

Investigators highlighted concerns over a chronology that was submitted as evidence by Joshua’s parents. They commented that they regulator failed to include the chronology in the evidence gathering process and also failed to “consider and understand the significance of this evidence and its relevance to a central issue in the case.”

The NMC then went on to make “incorrect and misleading statements” to Joshua’s parents, the PSA and the Secretary of State for Health about how it handled and reviewed the chronology.

Verita also commented that the regulator failed to treated witnesses “with the respect and sensitivity they deserved”.

Investigator on to recommend that the “NMC should make it a priority to ensure that it treats families and patients with respect and is honest and open with them” and “ensure that Panel Chairs are fully briefed about the importance of showing respect to bereaved relatives, perhaps by using this example as a case study.”

The total cost of Verita’s report was £151,742.22.

‘I am very sorry’.

Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, the current NMC Chief Executive and Registrar, said: “Throughout these fitness to practise cases the way we treated Mr Titcombe and his family was unacceptable. Our actions made an awful situation much worse and I am very sorry for that. I am also very sorry that our communications with Mr Titcombe, the PSA and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care contained incorrect and misleading information about our handling of this evidence.”

“This investigation highlights a number of failings at the NMC at that time. We did not properly understand the significance of this important piece of evidence, in particular to Mr Titcombe and his family, and we did not put it before the panel when we should have done. This reflected a culture at the NMC at that time that prioritised process over people.”

“Since the events at Morecambe Bay we have made significant changes, including much improved record keeping, the introduction of a new public support service, and additional training for panel members to help them better understand the needs of witnesses.

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Hospital charity launches Christmas gift appeal for patients

Those wishing to help the campaign can buy a gift or donate online.

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Send a smile

The Send a Smile with Santa campaign delivers presents to patients who are unable to celebrate Christmas at home.

A campaign to deliver more than 1,000 gifts for inpatients at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on Christmas Day has begun.

The N&N Hospitals Charity’s Send a Smile with Santa campaign delivers presents donated by the public to patients, both young and old, who are unable to celebrate Christmas at home with their families.

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Those wishing to help the campaign can choose an item from our Send a Smile with Santa list on Amazon or make a donation which will be used exclusively to purchase a gift.

Donations can also be dropped off by Sunday 8 December at the West Atrium Inpatient reception, Cromer Hospital, the Archant offices on Rouen Road, Norwich, and Greater Anglian Norwich Railway Station Customer Service.

The charity says that any donated presents should remain unwrapped so staff can ensure that presents are individually tailored for each patient, as well as protecting against potential infection.

‘Overwhelmed by kindness’.

Prof Nancy Fontaine, NNUH Chief Nurse, said: “We were overwhelmed by the kindness of people last year and we were able to deliver a lovely present to each of our patients.

“Nobody wants to spend time in hospital, and Christmas is so often a special time for people to be with family, and this is why we like to do something to make it a little nicer for our patients.

“We really hope that the people of Norfolk will once again support our appeal and help put a smile of the faces of our patients during the festive period.”

Louise Cook, Head of Fundraising at NNUH, added: “We know from our patients how lovely and unexpected it is to receive a gift on Christmas Day. They don’t need to be expensive gifts – toiletries, puzzle books, chocolates or socks are always greatly received.

“We have heard from people who would like to donate a gift but are unable to get out, so we this year we have an Amazon Wish List with small items which can be purchased and will be delivered directly to us, or a JustGiving page where a donation can be made and we will use that to purchase a gift for a patient.”

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