The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has welcomed the role, designed to bridge the gap between unregulated health care assistants and registered nurses. However, the College warns that nursing associates should not be asked to act outside of their remit or fill gaps due to a shortage in registered nurses.
The College will be publishing guidance and resources aimed at nursing associates and registered nurses, to help support their integration into the workplace and career development.
Nursing associates will work across a variety of settings including acute, mental health, community, social care, GP practices and hospices, supporting registered nurses across the health care system, freeing up nurses’ time to allow them to focus on the more complex aspects of care modern nursing demands.
As well as being a new standalone role, it also offers an alternative route to becoming a registered nurse. About 1,800 nursing associates are expected to qualify over the next few months.
Commenting, Patricia Marquis, England director at the RCN, said: “Nursing associates are a new addition to the clinical workforce in England, supporting registered nurses to provide safe and effective care. The role offers career progression for support staff as well as providing a new route to become a registered nurse.
“This is a valuable support role designed to work as part of the wider clinical team, however it is not a replacement for a registered nurse. Nursing associates will deliver and monitor care which has been prescribed and evaluated by a registered nurse.”
“With England facing a clear shortage of registered nurses, it is vital that employers do not attempt to fill any gaps with nursing associates. Nursing associates should never be asked to act outside their remit. This risks putting undue pressure on individuals, who must not be made to carry out duties that fall outside their regulated role. This would be unfair and could potentially threaten patient safety.”