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The rumours about nursing associates could not be further from the truth

It has been a year since the first 2,000 trainee nursing associates started on their training journey, over 8,000 people applied for only 2,000 places showing that there is a huge appetite for the role.

Early indications are that 95% of current trainees are expected to stay on in the role which is brilliant news for patients and service users.

What a fantastic year it has been, the event we hosted in London last week placed this into sharp focus. Attended by test sites, trainee nursing associates, patient representatives, education institutions and more, the event looked at the progress that has been made over the last year and provided a real insight into how the role is working in trusts and other health and care settings across the country.

The role itself has been the subject of much debate over the past year: ‘it’s nurses on the cheap’ or ‘patient safety is at risk’. As the event highlighted, this could not be further from the truth. Case studies on the day showed just how much of an impact the role is having in the delivery of care.

We heard from one trainee nursing associate whose work with a lived experience connector was helping him to support mental health patients. Others outlined their positive experiences of working with student and registered nurses, as well as other professionals who are also beginning to see the benefits the role brings.

We are also seeing the role take its first steps to being fully regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). It means that nursing associates will have to meet high standards in order to join the register like other health professionals are required to.

I am taking nothing for granted and we are evaluating how things have been going. Early indications are extremely encouraging, trainee nursing associates are proving to be highly motivated, fully committed and have been embracing the academic side of the role. Most say they are very satisfied with the quality of training.

We also want to know what is not going as well and are listening to the trainees and responding to any concerns. Evaluation is key to this work and will continue to monitor and share good practice.

I want say a big thank you to everyone who has helped make this happen and shown strong support for the role which is now beginning to become a key member of the multidisciplinary workforce across health and social care.

Professor Lisa Bayliss Pratt is the chief nurse for Health Education England