• Nursing associates must complete at least 2,300 hours of training
  • Training should be equivilant to foundation degree
  • The consultation on the standards will last for 12 weeks

Nursing associates must receive at least half the hours of training expected of registered nurses, under newly published regulatory draft standards.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has said it expects educators to provide nursing associates with “no less than” 2,300 hours of training – half of that completed by registered nurses – over the two years of their training, according to draft standards for pre-registration programmes.

The regulator is also consulting on whether the nursing associates’ course should be “consonant” with a foundation degree, which is “typically two years in length”.

The government announced the creation of the nursing associate role in 2015 and is currently in the process of amending legislation to give the NMC powers to regulate nursing associates. There are currently 2,000 trainees in NHS providers.

The draft standards also set out entry requirements, legal requirements, the curriculum and supervision expectations for organisations training nursing associates.

However, it stresses that the management of the quality of any educational programme lies within each institution.

The NMC first published draft standards for the proficiency of the nursing associate role last year and has published an updated version of them in its council papers.

Nursing associates must also demonstrate the ability to:

  • Undertake drug calculations for a range of medicines
  • Exercise professional accountability in administering medicines safely
  • Administer medication via oral, topical and inhalation routes
  • Administer injections using subcutaneous and intradermal routes and manage injection equipment
  • Recognise and respond to adverse or abnormal reactions to medications

The regulator has also proposed that it will extend its professional standards code for nurses and midwives to also cover nursing associates. The code states that only nurses and midwives who have successfully completed a further qualification in prescribing and recorded it on the register can prescribe. Nursing associates do not prescribe but they may supply, dispense and administer medicines.

“We think having one code is the best way for the public to understand the professional behaviours expected of all the professions we regulate,” an NMC spokesperson said.

They added: “We’ve made minor amendments to the Code, including rewriting the introduction so that it is applicable for nursing associates. We’ve also included a new footnote on prescribing, explaining that only some nurses and midwives will be able to prescribe while nursing associates will be unable to.”

Health Education England published advisory guidance last month, which clarified the nursing associates’ role in supplying medicines to patients. This was branded as “not sufficient” by the Royal College of Nursing.

The NMC will launch its consultation on the draft standards and code on 9 April and it will be open for 12 weeks.