The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is seeking views on its proposed approach to the regulation of the nursing associate role, a new apprenticeship created to bridge the gap between healthcare assistants and registered nurses in England.

As part of its proposals, the NMC has outlined its approach to education, including standards of proficiency for the role that will ensure nursing associates deliver first-class care.

The NMC also set out how it expects the existing code—with a new introduction—to apply to nursing associates as well as nurses and midwives, ensuring that the same high standards of professional behaviour and conduct will apply to everyone on its register.

Jackie Smith, chief executive and registrar of the NMC, said: “This is a hugely exciting step on the road to regulation for this new profession and we want to hear the views of all those with an interest in the role.”

“We think that our proposals will ensure that nursing associates are equipped with the skills they need to deliver excellent patient care and to support registered nurses and other health and care professionals throughout their careers.”

Under the plans, nursing associates would also be subject to the same revalidation requirements as nurses and midwives when renewing their registration with the NMC, as well as the same fitness to practise processes should something go wrong.

Over the coming weeks, the NMC will be holding workshops across the country for trainees, registered nurses, employers, patients and the public. There will also be regular Twitter chats and webinars with lots of opportunities for people to learn more about what regulation means for the new role and share their views. The nursing associate consultation will run until 2 July.

The standard for the nursing associate apprenticeship was approved for delivery in November 2017.

The UK government created the new healthcare role in 2015. Nursing associates are intended to work as members of interdisciplinary teams supporting the delivery of nursing care across a range of health and care settings.

The nursing associate role will be a profession in its own right and will provide a progression route into graduate level nursing degree programmes.

Health Education England worked with education providers and employers to develop a pilot programme to train 2,000 nursing associates in England. The first nursing associate programmes started in January 2017, and the first nursing associates are expected to qualify in early 2019.

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