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Nursing associates will be required to administer drugs by a variety of routes

Qualified nursing associates will be expected to demonstrate the ability to safely administer specified medications by a variety of different routes, according to draft standards of proficiency being sent to test sites today.

The exact routes of administration are to be considered as part of the consultation process, but the draft standards mention subcutaneous and per rectum routes as examples.

Nursing associates will also be expected to recognise signs of drug allergy or sensitivity, and notice any adverse reactions to medications.

Other expectations of a qualified nursing associate include:

  • Recognising changes in a person’s capacity, which might affect their ability to continue to make sound decisions about their own care and to give or withhold consent.
  • Recognising the signs of deterioration in relation to mental distress.
  • Undertaking basic health monitoring.
  • Supporting and coaching nursing associate students and healthcare assistants, and appraising the quality of their care.
  • Recognising inadequate staffing levels.

The draft makes clear that the primary assessment of a patient will be conducted by a registered nurse, but the nursing associate will be expected to continually monitor and reassess patients, and ensure the care plan set by the nurse is followed. Nursing associates also need to be able to recognise changes in a patient's normal condition, and refer back to the nurse where appropriate.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council are releasing the draft standards to test sites across the country, defining exactly what is expected of a qualified nursing associate. The consultation will run until spring 2018, with test sites providing feedback on areas for potential change to the standards.