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One in two nursing associates fear lack of acceptance from colleagues

Almost 50% of trainee nursing associates feel that poor acceptance of the role from colleagues is the biggest challenge to introducing the role in the NHS.

An online survey conducted by Health Education England (HEE) found that 44% of a sample of the current cohort cited this as the biggest challenge, followed by 43% claiming a poor awareness and understanding of the role was the second biggest challenge.

Many claimed that this had slowed their development. Around 35% of trainee nursing associates felt that either their own or other staff members’ lack of clarity, understanding and awareness of the nursing associate role had hindered their progress within the workplace.

The HEE interim report, evaluating the introduction of nursing associates into practice, added that ‘many were also worried that the role may not be well understood, and that it could potentially create tensions among colleagues if it was not introduced effectively.’

Visits to various test sites across the country also found variation in attitude and support by colleagues.

The report states: ‘While many colleagues have been positive and supportive, some trainee nursing associates are still being viewed as healthcare assistants, and some trainee nursing associates report encountering nurses and student nurses who have felt threatened by the new role.’

As a result of the feedback, HEE have committed to supporting trainee nursing associates by ‘promoting their role and its benefits widely among the workforce’, which will include communication to ‘help tackle myths about the role’.

HEE will also engage with nurses and other staff members as the role is introduced into the healthcare system.

Dr Geraldine Walters, director of education and standards at the Nursing and Midwifery Council, said that the report shows more needs to be done to raise awareness of the role.

She said: ‘More needs to be done to raise awareness of the nursing associate role and to ensure that the workload of trainees is appropriately managed. We’ll continue work closely with HEE and our other partners to ensure this role is properly understood and successfully implemented and we look forward to welcoming the first qualified nursing associates on to our register in January 2019.’

HEE’s analysis found that the majority (66%) are satisfied with their progress so far, with 15% unsatisfied.

They felt that trainee nursing associates were bringing ‘additional capacity’ to their workplace as skills were developed, but discovered that some nursing associates were still being viewed as healthcare assistants. Many reported being given tasks similar to that of a healthcare assistant role.

The interim report was based upon two elements – an online survey of 1,030 trainee nursing associates, and four ‘deep dive’ visits to test sites by evaluation teams to gain insight into the current cohort’s perspectives on the programme.