The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has become the regulator in law for nursing associates – the new health and care role designed to bridge the gap between unregulated health care assistants and registered nurses.

In 2015, Health Education England’s Shape of Caring review , identified a gap in skills and knowledge between health care assistants and registered nurses.

Health Education England consulted on the nature and purpose of the new role and the government confirmed that it would be a generic role, meaning that qualified nursing associates would have skills and knowledge across the fields of nursing.

There are currently 2,000 student nursing associates at 35 Health Education England test sites across England who are undergoing a two year education and training programme. A further 5,000 new starts were planned for 2018.

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

Jackie Smith, NMC Chief Executive and Registrar, said:

“This is a significant milestone on the nursing associate journey and regulation of this new role has now become a reality. There is still much to do to before the first nursing associates join our register early next year and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure this new role is understood.”