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NMC prepares to welcome first nursing associates in January 2019

19 September 2018

Final proposals for the regulation of nursing associates, including the skills and knowledge students will need in order to qualify, have been outlined by the NMC today.

The nursing associate role will bridge the gap between registered nurses and healthcare assistants. It will also provide a pathway to becoming a registered nurse for those nursing associates who want to further their career.

The new standards for the role have been published alongside the wider approach to the regulation of nursing associates. The NMC’s governing Council will be asked to approve the proposals at its meeting on 26 September.

Geraldine Walters, Director of Education and Standards at the NMC said:

“It’s clear from what we’ve seen and heard that trainee nursing associates are appreciated by those they’re caring for, and that the nurses they are working alongside recognise the potential of the role now and in the future.

“We know just how important it is that students who are training ‘on the job’ have time away from their everyday duties to learn. We’re confident that the plans we’ve outlined today will not only support students to learn and keep patients safe but also work for employers too.

“We look forward to seeing the first qualified nursing associates caring for people across England from January next year.”

The main way for a nursing associate to train will be through work based learning - an apprenticeship. So the NMC has worked closely with employers and educators to develop a new approach to ensuring appropriate learning time for students. This will give education providers and their practice placement partners more flexibility to decide how students will get the protected learning time they need.

One option could be the traditional ‘supernumerary’ model – where students are additional to the minimum number of staff required for safety.

While under the new option, nursing associate students would be included in the numbers required for safety but their employers must show the NMC how they will protect a certain amount of time for them to learn. This might be by giving them time away from their usual duties or showing that they have supervision when developing new skills.

Under both options, students would be supervised and must receive the same amount of protected learning time.

As part of its plans, the NMC has also set out how the existing Code - with a new introduction and some minor changes - will 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.

While the proposed fees that nursing associates will be expected to pay have also been set out and will bring nursing associates broadly into line with nurses and midwives.

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Notes for editors

  1. Details of the proposals can be found on our website.
  2. The NMC's governing Council will be asked to approve the proposed approach to regulation at its meeting on the 26 September.
  3. For media enquiries, please contact NMC press office on 020 7681 5884 or email media@nmc-uk.org. ​
  4. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is the independent professional regulator for nurses and midwives in the UK. We exist to protect the public. We do this by maintaining the register of qualified nurses and midwives and setting standards of education, training, conduct and performance. We make sure that nurses and midwives keep their skills and knowledge up to date through a regular revalidation process. If concerns are raised about the standards of a registered nurse or midwife, we have a duty to investigate and, where necessary, take action to protect the public.