Health Education England (HEE) has published feedback on the implementation of a new nursing support role.
The role, which is expected to work alongside care assistants and registered nurses, was met with positive feedback from 1,384 patients, healthcare workers and organisations.
Overall, respondents thought the new “nursing associate” would benefit patients and carers by improving fundamental care, contact time and general communication with patients and their carers.
The report, Building Capacity to Care and Capability to Treat, also noted the impact on registered nurses, where there was some concern that the role would undermine them or be their substitute.
However, many saw the new position as a valuable opportunity for care assistants to progress into more advanced caring and nursing support roles.
HEE also found that support was high for the position to be regulated, but fewer were in favour of the role being registered.
Donna Kinnair, director of nursing, policy and practice at the Royal College of Nusring (RCN) said: “Registered nurses are the backbone of care in this country. They are highly trained to assess, plan, and deliver nursing care, and their registration requires ongoing learning and supervision to maintain their skills.
“It’s clear that there were widely shared concerns that the nursing associate role could be used a substitute for registered nurses, and it is positive to see that HEE have acknowledged this worry.
“It’s vital to have a supporting workforce who have a framework for progression and the ability to develop in their roles if that is what they want to do.
“Ultimately, the best interests of patients will be served by developing support staff, either through this new role or by extending existing ones, and by ensuring that there are enough registered nurses.”
Among the 255 organisations that responded included NHS trusts, universities, nursing groups and clinical commissioning groups (CCG).
Professor Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, director of nursing at HEE said the new role would not be a “panacea for future workforce supply, or a substitute for increasing the supply of graduate registered nurses”.
She added: “This new role has the potential to transform the nursing and care workforce – making sure the role has a clear entry and progression point will be crucial in its development.
“We do need to protect what we value across the nursing and care profession but we also need to collectively agree that we can’t always hold on to what we have done in the past – change is inevitable.”