Nursing associates will be introduced next year to work alongside healthcare support workers and fully qualified nurses focusing on patient care, announced health minister Ben Gummer.
The role, will bridge the gap between healthcare support workers, who have a care certificate, and registered nurses.
Mr Gummer said: 'This new role and the opportunity it offers for those who want to progress to a registered nurse will open up a career in nursing for thousands of people from all backgrounds. Along with the recent changes to student funding, which will enable universities to offer up to 10,000 additional training places over this parliament, we will ensure the profession is accessible for those with the skills, values and ambition to choose nursing.
'We will consult widely in the new year as we want to ensure nursing apprenticeships and this new post are correctly formed,' he added.
Chief nursing officer Jane Cummings said: 'Health and care assistants are a really important part of the team and should be given the opportunity to develop, which is why we continue to work with Health Education England and the Nursing and Midwifery Council on the development of a tangible career path. This new role will provide a valuabel addition to this work by creating a bridge between between senior health and care assistants and registered nurses. It will also benefit registered by providing additional support in meeting the needs of our patients.'
Individual NHS employers will decide how many nursing associates are needed in their organisation. However, subject to the outcome of a consultation, it is anticipated that up to 1000 nursing associates could be trained from 2016.
There will be a consultation on all the specifics of the scope of this role, including the title, with representatives from the nursing profession including the royal colleges and the representative unions in the new year.