NMC agrees to regulate new nursing associate role

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has formally agreed to a request from the Department of Health to be the regulator for the new nursing associate role. 

Health and care providers in Lincolnshire will pilot the training of the nursing associate role this week, as part of an East Midlands collaborative.

In December 2015, the Government announced a plan to create a new healthcare support role - the nursing associate - that will sit alongside existing nursing care support workers and fully-qualified registered nurses to deliver hands-on care for patients. It has the potential to transform the future of the nursing and care workforce.

In a speech on 30 November 2016, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, announced that he had asked the Nursing and Midwifery Council to consider regulation of the new Nursing Associate role. 

Jackie Smith, NMC Chief Executive and Registrar of the NMC said: “After a thoughtful and thorough discussion, the NMC’s Council has agreed to a request from the Department of Health to be the regulator for the new nursing associate role.

“The Council recognised that there is strong support for the regulation of nursing associates and I have always maintained that the public would expect any role with nursing in the title to be regulated.

“As an organisation we are well-equipped to regulate nursing associates and this is a positive endorsement of our progress. We will continue to work closely with stakeholders including the Department of Health and Health Education England to ensure the successful development and implementation of this new role.”

Health and Care organisations across Lincolnshire will see health and care providers working together with the University of Lincoln to shape the nursing associate role, to recruit and train across hospital, community and home settings. 

Debrah Bates, Deputy Chief Nurse at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust said: “It’s quite an accolade to have been successful in our bid. At ULHT we will be looking at having our trainee nursing associates  particularly at Pilgrim Hospital, Boston to strengthen our workforce.

 “This is all about providing safe and high quality care for our patients using new roles and will help with the current and predicted shortfall in registered nurses. We currently have 265 nursing vacancies at ULHT.”

Melanie Weatherley, Chair of the Lincolnshire Care Association said: "Lincolnshire's residential and nursing homes are delighted to be partners in this successful bid. We are looking forward to supporting staff in this exciting new role and being part of developing a workforce who will understand the patient journey from a variety of perspectives." 

The Nursing Associate role provides an opportunity to develop and formally recognise staff within the workforce who will be a key part of providing quality care in our social care settings. 

Susan Ombler, Deputy Director of Nursing at Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, said: “This is a great opportunity to develop and grow the future workforce with the right skills and knowledge to meet the delivery of high quality patient care in Lincolnshire. We are looking forward to welcoming the new trainees in their placements with us and supporting them in their career.”

Anne-Maria Olphert, Director of Nursing at Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are really pleased to be able to develop this new role in our organisation. It will help us to adapt to the increasing demand we are seeing on services, while we continue to support people through severe episodes of mental health.”

The Nursing Associate programme is full time over two years. It is a practice based programme with academic input from the University of Lincoln. Lincolnshire health and social care providers form one of five ‘circuits’ that make up an East Midlands collaborative area who bid to become a test site pilot for this new role.

Dr Sharon Black, Director of Nurse Education at the University of Lincoln said: “The addition of the Nursing Associate Diploma in Higher Education to our health and social care portfolio is a welcome one. We have worked closely with health and social care partners to build a robust and exciting curriculum that will meet the needs of these services across Lincolnshire.”

Michelle Webb, Director of Patient Care at St Barnabas Lincolnshire Hospice said: “At St Barnabas we are delighted to be part of this successful bid.  This is an exciting time for Lincolnshire as we can influence the nursing associate role, to embed our values of compassion and dignity to ensure patients receive safe, high quality care.”

Professor Lisa Bayliss Pratt, Director of Nursing and Deputy Director of Education and Quality, Health Education England, said: “We welcome the announcement that the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) have agreed to regulate the Nursing Associate role. This is an important step in the journey for this exciting new role.

“Our consultation showed that there was strong support for regulation and we have always been very clear that regulation is something that we are in favour of.

“The role will establish a clear pathway for aspiring nurses, through education and training and supported by regulation it will give confidence to patients and employers that it is an important part of the NHS workforce.”