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Nursing Associate - a new support role for nursing

The Nursing Associate role is a new support role that will sit alongside existing healthcare support workers and fully-qualified registered nurses to deliver hands-on care for patients. Following huge interest some 2,000 people are now in training with providers across England.

In December 2015 the Government announced a plan to create a new nursing support role.

The new role is expected to work alongside care assistants and registered nurses to deliver hands-on care, focusing on ensuring patients continue to get the compassionate care they deserve. Its introduction has the potential to transform the nursing and care workforce - with clear entry and career progression points.  

The Shape of Caring review recommended developing this role because of a need in the NHS - from patients, trainees and the service.

HEE aims to ensure that the staff of the future are ready, willing and able to deliver the high quality care patients need and a workforce that can adapt to change as it happens. We want to create a career pathway that offers opportunities to develop their skills and offers job satisfaction to those who want to progress in the nursing profession. Overall, we want to create a new type of care worker with a higher skill-set to assist, support and complement the care given by registered nurses.

A set of frequently asked questions is available to download from this page.


The Nursing Associate role will be regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Test sites

Eleven sites were chosen to deliver the first wave of training and run over a two-year period. The sites bring together a wide range of organisations including educational institutions, care homes, acute, community and mental health trusts and hospices, representing the variety of places where Nursing Associates will provide care for patients.

A further 24 test sites were chosen to carry out training for the second wave of Nursing Associates who will begin a two-year programme for a cohort of 1,000 trainees from April 2017.


Available to download from the bottom of this page

What people say about the Nursing Associate role

Professor Ian Cumming, Chief Executive, HEE, said:

We are at a pivotal point in determining what the future nursing and care workforce needs to look like for now and in the years to come. I passionately believe that this new role will help build the capacity and capability of the health and social care workforce and allow high quality care to be delivered to a diverse and ageing population. Over the last few months we’ve seen widespread support for such a role – we will now move swiftly to make this role a reality and a success.

Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England, said:

It is important that we build a workforce to meet the changing needs of the people we care for. The new Nursing Associate role will be a part of a team built around those needs and will provide an exciting opportunity for those who want to progress their careers in the field of health and care.

The new role also has clear benefits for registered nurses, providing additional support and releasing time to provide the assessment and care they are trained to do, as well as undertake more advanced tasks. This will ensure we use the right skills in the right place and at the right time.

The introduction of Nursing Associates is a positive and welcome step forward and I look forward to following progress made as training begins.

Joanne Bosanquet, Public Health England’s Deputy Chief Nurse, said:

The nursing associate role will help ensure future nurses are prepared for the challenges of modern day healthcare, focusing on prevention and wellbeing. This will be good for individuals, helping and encouraging them to better look after their own health. I wish new trainees all the best.

Ruth May, Executive Director of Nursing at NHS Improvement, said:

The Nursing Associate role will be a key part of a contemporary multidisciplinary workforce. In my discussions with Directors of Nursing across England there is widespread support for the introduction of this role for health and care.

I’m delighted with today’s announcement and I will work with the successful organisations during their pilots.



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