Jeremy Hunt will ask the NMC to regulate the new nursing associate role which takes its first cohort of 1,000 students in January 2017.
Concerns had been raised following the announcement earlier this year that Health Education England intends to provide in its syllabus the provision for nursing associates to perform duties previously preserved for qualified nurses only.
Jeremy Hunt will say today that: – “statutory professional regulation is a necessary and proportionate requirement for this important new role.” He will also state that the role is designed to support and not replace the nursing profession.
Many call for additional support to nurses and the profession and the nursing associate e role was intended to provide support without the need for the position to be regulated. Perhaps, despite objections to the development of this role the need for the role to be regulated recognises the importance of the role that is conducted by this new profession, which will be one in its own right.
This new nursing associate role appears to be unintentionally diluting the importance of a qualified nurse. Whilst nursing associates are to be supervised by qualified nurses throughout their training it is expected that once they complete their course of training they will be under the same level of scrutiny as qualified nurses themselves.
NMC chief executive Jackie Smith said: “There is strong support for the nursing associate role and the Department of Health has today decided that it is a role which requires regulation. As an organisation we are well equipped to take on the role of the regulator, however, this decision will be made by our council at its meeting 25 January.”
The nursing associate role will provide much needed support to the nursing profession but as Jeremy Hunt says the role should not substitute the important function that qualified nurses carry out. The NMC agrees that the role should be regulated; some might say a focus on this role is diverting much needed impetus from increasing the drive to recruit more qualified nurses in their own right.