Nursing Associates Will be Allowed to Administer Drugs While learning ‘on the job’

Nursing associates, who the Government hope will “bridge the gap” between healthcare support workers and registered nurses, will be able to administer controlled medicines and carry out invasive procedures, leaked documents suggest.

Nursing Associates will be allowed to perform some duties of a registered nurse, according to leaked documents, as they perform 'on the job' training. (Photo: Getty)
Nursing Associates will be allowed to perform some duties of a registered nurse, according to leaked documents, as they perform ‘on the job’ training. (Photo: Getty)

The Government has announced plans to create 2,000 of the new roles across England, with the first 1,000 due to start training at 11 test sites from December. Nursing associates will learn on the job, via an apprenticeship, leading to a foundation degree.

Health Education England (HEE), which is overseeing training, has said there has been “huge interest” in the role from hospitals and other parts of the NHS.

Nursing associates will be allowed to carry out invasive procedures on patients without the direct supervision of a qualified nurse, new HEE documents seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ) reveal.

They would also be allowed to calculate and administer controlled drugs. By the end of two years of training, the “trainee nursing associate will be able to deliver planned nursing interventions… in a range of health and/or care settings under the direction of a registered nurse without direct supervision, delivering care at times independently in line with an agreed/defined plan of care”, the documents state.

Nursing associates will “correctly and safely undertake medicine calculations; administer medicines safely and in a timely manner, including controlled drugs”. This will only happen where deemed appropriate and set out in organisational medicine management policies.

Associates will also be expected to be able to “correctly and safely receive, store and dispose of medications”, the HSJ reported.

‘More clarity needed’

Janet Davies, the head of the Royal College of Nursing, called for more clarity on the nursing associate role and said they must not be a substitute for registered nurses.

“Nurses are responsible for the wellbeing of their patients and this includes delegating some tasks to other members of staff,” she said.

“Part of their professional accountability involves making a judgment over when it is safe to delegate responsibilities to colleagues. To continue to do this properly they will need much more clarity over the roles and responsibilities of nursing associates.

“Safe administration of medicines is a key patient safety issue. Drug administration is not a mechanistic task – it requires professional judgment, and if ongoing assessment of a patient is required, it should be the responsibility of a registered nurse.”

Health officials have said nursing associates will work “under the direction” of a fully qualified registered nurse.

How the roles compare

A registered nurse holds a degree in nursing and is registered with the Nursing & Midwifery Council. As nursing requires a high level of technical competence and clinical decision-making skills, students spend half their nursing degree on supervised placements in local hospital and community settings to develop these.

They can expect to have a starting salary of more than £21,000. A Director of Nursing, the highest paid position, can earn more than £95,000.

Nursing associates will work alongside healthcare support workers and fully qualified nurses focusing on patient care. The role could also be a new route for those wishing to become a registered nurse, which requires a university degree.

Salaries are expected to be in line with healthcare assistants, ranging from £15,000 to £18,000.

 

Source: i News