Nursing Associate

The Department of Health Sciences, in partnership with York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (North Yorkshire, York and East Coast Partnership), is introducing a pilot programme for the new Nursing Associate role commencing from April 2017 - April 2019. 

This is part of a national pilot programme to evaulate the Nursing Associate Curriculum Framework devised by Health Education England (HEE). This is a two year, full-time, work-based programme with the award of Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care: Nursing Associate. Future provision will be based on the results of the national pilot programme. Read on to find out more about the role and the programme.

What is a Nursing Associate and what is their role?

The Nursing Associate role

  • Is equivalent to the Associate Practitioner role in level within the NHS, but has a very specific focus on nursing. There will be a clear distinction between this role and the role of the registrant.
  • Will allow the Nursing Associate to work independently, within defined parameters of practice, under the leadership and direction of registered nurses to support the registrant.
  • Will focus on the nursing process including the assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation of care and engagement in person-centred and holistic care.
  • Allow registered nurses to focus more specialist care and advanced practice.
  • Provide Nursing Associates with the breadth of knowledge and a flexible, portable skillset to serve local health populations.

 On completition of their programme these students will be able to apply for Band 4 Nursing Associate roles.

Why introduce a new role?

  • There is a need 'to strengthen the capacity and skills of the nursing and caring workforce' (HEE 2016:7).
  • It will develop a care role acting as a bridge between the unregulated care assistant workforce and the registered nursing workforce.
  • It is intended to bring 'national consistency and coherence in the delivery of the education and training model for Nursing Associates' (HEE 2016:3).
  • Part of wider changes within the workforce and upskilling of registered nurses.
  • Link roles more closely to the sustainability and transformation plans across communities as pilot sites must link Nursing Associate pilot programme to the local Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) 

How has the new role been developed?

This role has arisen from 'Raising the Bar; Shape of Caring Review' (Willis 2015) and 'Five Year Forward View' (NHS England 2014). It has also been influenced by the Cavendish Review (Cavendish 2013). It was approved by Health Education England (HEE) Executive in December 2015.

In June 2016, HEE asked for partnership applications comprising of service providers and Higher Education Institutions to become two year pilot sites to implement the Nursing Associate Curriculum framework. The final version of the national curriculum document was published in November 2016.

The first pilot sites (partnerships) were notified in October 2016, to start January 2017. In November 2016, the Department of Health Sciences and York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust received confirmation of their application to start in April 2017. This partnership is now known as the North Yorkshire, York and East Coast Partnership.

What will the trainee Nursing Associate students learn?

Students' learning covers eight areas in theory and practice:

  • professional values and parameters of practice
  • person-centred approaches to care
  • delivering care (through medication management)
  • communication and inter-personal skills
  • duty of care, candour, equality and diversity
  • supporting learning and assessment in practice
  • team-working and leadership
  • research, development and innovation.

In practice they must gain experience:

  • in hospital, close to home (community) and at home
  • across fields of practice nad the lifespan - adult, mental health, learning disability and child
  • in urban and rural environments.

Will the role be regulated?

Yes. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) announced in February 2017 that Nursing Associates will be registered with the NMC. This is in response to a request from the Department of Health. The NMC are currently developing the standards for future programmes. Regulation will not commence until 2019 when the first Nursing Associates complete the pilot programmes