The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), Health Education England (HEE) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) are celebrating one year of nursing associates making a difference in care for people across England.
Twelve months on, it’s clear the nursing associate role is helping to bridge the gap between health and care assistants and registered nurses, as well as offering new career development opportunities to thousands of aspiring professionals.
Nursing associates are now making a difference to people’s care in a wide variety of settings, whether in care homes, in the community or hospitals. The role has already proved to be popular with people wanting to further their career, with more than 1560 nursing associates now on the NMC register.
Su Hickman, a nursing associate trainee at Oxford University Hospital, initially started nursing training in 2013 but had to withdraw after her diagnosis with ovarian cancer. After her recovery, she started work at the hospital in an administrative role, but felt that something was missing from her career. Su’s manager supported her to pursue the nursing associate role shortly after it became available.
Su said: “At first I was worried it would be really basic, where we wouldn’t learn that much or have any opportunities to do interesting things. But it has been the complete opposite!
“It’s been absolutely fascinating, very hands-on and I’ve really enjoyed the academic learning. Every day we learn something new and the support from nurses, doctors and especially my managers has made a huge difference; it’s opened so many opportunities for my future that I’d never imagined.”
The NMC is also celebrating the first nursing associates joining the register from overseas. Kylie Weir originally studied nursing in her home country of New Zealand. When she and her partner decided to relocate to the UK in 2019, she discovered the nursing associate role, which was equivalent to her degree.
Kylie said: “I would definitely recommend it to anyone, it’s such a great way to bridge the gap between health care assistant and nurses. It’s also the perfect opportunity to get into healthcare and see if you like it.
“I think it’s great that we’re registered with NMC, it helps keep us accountable not only to ourselves, but to all those we care for as well.”
Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Executive and Registrar for the NMC, recently joined nursing associates, nurses and the people they care for at Milton Keynes University Hospital (MKUH) to celebrate the one year anniversary.
Andrea said: “It’s great to see how far we’ve come in only a year of this new professional role joining our register. During my recent visit to Milton Keynes Hospital, I was delighted to meet nursing associates and hear about the positive difference they are making for the people they support. It was also lovely to hear from their colleagues who clearly value their contribution to the wider nursing team.
“I’m always encouraged by the enthusiasm and pride nursing associates show about their role – they have such an important part to play as we develop a modern, progressive nursing team to meet the increasing needs of people using health and social care services.
“I look forward to seeing this role continue to grow in the years ahead.”
While visiting, Andrea met with two of the first nursing associates to join the register from MKUH. Danielle Knight, who started at the trust as a porter eight years ago, now works in the emergency department. She said her proudest moment was graduating from the nursing associate course.
Danielle said: “I never thought I’d get to this point and getting to see the faces of my two children when I graduated was so special. My daughter now says she wants to become a nurse when she grows up!”
Mark Radford, Chief Nurse, Health Education England said: “Nursing associates have become a key part of healthcare teams who deliver much needed care to patients in health and social care setting across the country. It is great to see how far this new role has come in such a short space of time and the continued enthusiasm and commitment shown for it.
“I am pleased to see that over 1500 NA’s are now part of the NMC register in the last year and look forward to seeing those numbers continue to grow.”
Health Minister Edward Argar said: “Nursing associates are making a positive difference to patients and supporting nurses to deliver high quality, safe care every single day.
“This Government will deliver 50,000 more nurses by 2025 and this fantastic role provides a new route into a rewarding career in the NHS by making it easier to climb the ladder for those who want to become registered nurses.”
“One year on, thousands of Nursing Associates have either joined the register or begun training and I hope to see many more starting their careers in healthcare in the coming years.”
Picture caption: ED Nurse Katie Rockliffe, Danielle Knight (NA) and chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe, visiting nursing associates at Milton Keynes University Hospital.