The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has called the results of a nursing associate consultation an ‘early step’ towards a standardised role.
The RCN, while ‘determined’ to see the position fully integrated into the workforce, is concerned that its definition remains ambiguous.
‘Nursing associates must be a clearly designed role to complement the existing healthcare workforce and supporting our registered nurses,’ said Janet Davies, chief executive of the RCN.
‘To ensure safe and effective patient care, nursing associate training must be consistent across England, and nursing associates must have supernumerary status while they train.’
Four workshops, a survey of 2500 respondents, and interviews with stakeholders helped form a response from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) consultation.
While the NMC stresses that it is ‘not a new profession’ the RCN is anxious that the role is still ill-defined – having also raised concerns that nursing associates could be performing duties outside of their remit as a supporting role.
The point was also raised that employers are replacing registered nurses with nursing associates, potentially risking the quality of patient care.
‘A lack of clarity over the scope and nature of the job could jeopardise patient care, and place unfair pressure on support staff asked to act beyond their training,’ added Ms Davies.
The RCN has outlined that it believes the position must be: a support role (working under a registered nurse); adaptable to a variety of workplace settings and service users; developed recognising the role of employers in supporting work-based learning; a viable platform for progression to become a graduate registered nurse; and contribute to high quality, safe and effective patient care.