Information for employers

Nursing associates in practice

While we’ll develop standards that set out what nursing associates need to know and be able to do in order to join our register, employers will decide how nursing associates are used in their own health and care settings.

Nurse leaders in England have been clear that the intention is for nursing associates to support and not substitute for nurses. Having more highly educated and skilled support staff should enable better use to be made of graduate nurse resources.

Protected title ‘nursing associate’

The Department for Health and Social Care’s consultation included plans to protect the title ‘nursing associate’. Once we’re the regulator in law and the nursing associate part of the register opens in January 2019, it’ll be an offence to practise in England as a nursing associate without being registered as one with the NMC, or falsely to claim to be qualified or registered.

Employers are strongly advised not to recruit people to ‘nursing associate’ posts who will not be able to practise as nursing associates once the title is protected, or to advertise posts as ‘nursing associate’ posts if they are not going to be filled by qualified and registered nursing associates.

Employing nursing associates

You’ll be able to employ nursing associates from January 2019 when the first cohort of students qualify and join our register. Nursing associates will be subject to the full suite of regulation, in broadly the same way we regulate nurses and midwives. This includes adhering to the Code, completing revalidation and being subject to fitness to practise processes.

We’ll also open the register to applicants from outside England.

Organisations with responsibility for workforce and safe staffing will be developing tools and resources to support you in implementing the new role. We’ll provide links to these when they’re available. In the meantime you may find it helpful to speak to those involved in the test sites via your professional networks.

Nursing associate apprenticeships

The nursing associate apprenticeship standard has been approved and is now available for use. This is funded by employers via the apprenticeship levy and offers a work-based training route. It’s based on the HEE curriculum at the current time but when we are the regulator of nursing associates, the standard will be changed to reflect our standards and education requirements.

Until we approve nursing associate programmes, apprenticeships must be delivered by an NMC approved education institution for pre-registration nursing.

In Autumn 2017 the Secretary of State announced an additional 5,000 nursing associate training places in 2018 and a further 7,500 in 2019.

There’s nothing to prevent employers taking the standard and using it, but we do encourage you to join an existing consortium, or establish a new consortium, under Health Education England’s oversight.

HEE’s quality assurance activity will be important in securing a smooth route to registration for ‘pre-regulation’ cohorts of nursing associates.

If there is no independent and reliable quality assurance about ‘pre-regulation’ programmes, their trainees will need to sit a test of competence in order to be eligible to apply for registration. HEE’s website includes information on nursing associate test sites.