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Nursing associates

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Nursing associates are supporting practices to ‘future-proof’ a nursing work force.

Liz Nicholls, Nurse Practitioner and Primary Care Tutor, Bexley Community Education Provider Network (CEPN), says it’s about “supporting the existing registered general practice nurse”. Predictions show a large number of nurses in the area leaving the profession or retiring in the next five years.

The CEPN has embraced the nurse associate role to work alongside the registered nurse (RN). They are supported by the RN to deliver core services such as cytology and childhood immunisation, as well as the prevention strategy. This releases the RN to focus on more complex care. The RN can also extend areas of specialism such as frailty. Meanwhile they supervise and delegate tasks and care plans to the nurse associate and healthcare support worker. This new way of working is not without its challenges. It needs clear lines of accountability and responsibility. It is part of skill mix, alongside other newly emerging roles. And it will enable general practice to continue to be the cornerstone of the NHS.

Employer buy in is essential, says Liz. There needs to be a clear memorandum of understanding to support the apprentice over the two-year period and beyond.

There's a range of reasons why people cannot access a nursing career via the academic route. The associate nurse apprenticeship gives an opportunity to do so via a work-based learning route. Thus Bexley CEPN is contributing to the future nursing workforce.

Last updated:
18 June 2019