The health minister for Wales has confirmed plans to introduce a nursing associate role to the NHS.
Eluned Morgan described the move, which is subject to necessary UK legislation, as a ‘momentous decision for nursing’.
Plans for a regulated band 4 nursing role in Wales were first mooted earlier this month.
At the time it attracted backlash from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) which said the new role, which was introduced in England in 2019, could see health boards substituting nursing associates with registered nurses.
Nursing in Practice has asked the Welsh Government whether the role will be introduced into general practice, but it is yet to confirm.
‘Today I am announcing my intention to introduce a regulated band 4 nursing role for the NHS in Wales, subject to the necessary UK legislative amendments,’ said Ms Morgan.
She said the decision was based on a review of nursing in Wales which she described as the ‘biggest and most impactful’ of its kind since the introduction of the graduate nurse in 2004.
The report, which is due to be published in the coming weeks, involved ‘comprehensive review of literature, evidence gathering and extensive stakeholder engagement’.
‘A key finding demonstrates that despite considerable work over a decade to standardise health care support worker development, there remains significant under-utilisation of the band 4 role and an inconsistent approach to its implementation across NHS Wales,’ added the health minister.
‘A fundamental outcome of the project confirms that clinical and academic stakeholders across Wales want the band 4 role in nursing to be regulated to provide increased public protection and a reduction in risk, along with consistency in terms of professional and educational standards.’
She noted that the approach taken in Wales ‘mirror work undertaken in NHS England with the introduction of their band 4 registered nursing associate role’.
‘The registered nursing associate has been described as the best model of widening access into nursing in England and provides the opportunity for new, educated members of the nursing workforce to bridge the gap between health care support workers and registered nurses,’ claimed Ms Morgan.
She added: ‘Over the coming weeks the full project report will be published, and later this year we will undertake public consultation on developing the parameters of practice for the new role in Wales.
‘This is a momentous decision for nursing and is vitally important for the quality and safety of care provided to patients as well as improving patient outcomes.’