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Nursing Associates


“The nursing associate is a new support role in England that bridges the gap between health care assistants and registered nurses. Nursing associates deliver hands-on, person-centred care for patients and service users in a range of case settings. “ [1]

Nursing associates can undertake the administration of medicines as part of their role, following additional training, education and required governance structures. HEE has published advisory guidance - Answering your questions on the Nursing Associate role - setting out the expectations for nursing associates who administer medicines to patients.

They are trained to foundation level (2 years of study, equivalent to Level 5 in the England QAA educational framework) and can progress to graduate level nursing. The role has been developed to support the existing nursing workforce and wider multidisciplinary team. When qualified they can register with the NMC.

“You will undertake academic learning one day a week and work-based learning the rest of the week. You'll be employed in a specific healthcare setting such as an acute, community or mental health hospital, care home or hospice but also gain experience other health and care settings and situations. This will mean travelling to placements and working a mix of shifts.” [3]

Please refer to the NMC Guidance Standards of proficiency for nursing associates Annexe B on page 15 to view the procedures that NAs can undertake.


  NMC -What is a nursing associate?   


  RCN - Becoming a nursing associate


Eligibility of Registered Nursing Associates to undertake cervical sampler taker training

Public Health England have recently produced a paper stating that qualified NAs are eligible to train to become cervical sample takers.

NHS Cervical Screening Programme - Guidance for the training of cervical sample takers



Please note the following joint statement from Public Health England, Health Education England, Care Quality Commission:

‘There will be benefit for Nursing Associates in General Practice to be able to undertake cervical cytology screening. This benefit will be in regard to the delivery of national screening programme outcomes (hence benefits to women’s health) and to support the programme of work required to be delivered by General Practice Nurses.” 


Public Health England - Nursing Associates and Cervical Screening



For nursing associates to undertake cervical screening they would first need to have:

  1. Completed a Nursing Associate qualification and be registered as a Nursing Associate with the NMC
  2. Undertaken initial theory and practical training as required by the cervical screening programme, successfully complete the course and be assessed as competent
  3. Undertaken update training and maintain competency in line with national programme cervical sample taker training guidance


 Health Education England Publication - Nursing Associates: Their role in General Practice




Assistant Practitioner

An assistant practitioner, works under the direction of a health professional such as a nurse, they can work without direct supervision undertaking agreed procedures and referring to a qualified nurse or other registered professional when necessary. They will have undertaken a level 5 two-year foundation degree in health or social care, which may be available as an apprenticeship programme.

Examples of Level 5 qualifications include:

Experiential requirements:

In addition to the above qualification, they must also:

They can progress to undertake a level 6 nursing degree and become members of the RCN, see this link for more details around the role.

They are not registered with the NMC.

For further information please click on the following links:

Nursing degree apprenticeships

“The standards for nursing degree apprenticeships have been approved and a small number of NHS organisations have started to advertise vacancies. Nursing degree apprenticeships offer flexible routes to becoming a nurse that don't require full-time study at university, although nursing degree apprentices will still need to undertake academic study at degree level and meet the standards laid down by the NMC.

You will need to secure a position as a nursing degree apprentice and your employer will then release you to study at university on a part-time basis. You will train in a range of practice placement settings.

Most nursing degree apprenticeships will take four years. If you already have prior learning and experience, you may get some recognition of this through APEL and so the nursing degree apprenticeship may take you less than four years to complete.

In terms of entry requirements for nursing degree apprenticeships, you will typically need level 3 qualifications as you will be studying to degree level. Those completing a nursing associate apprenticeship will be able to count this training towards the degree-level apprenticeship, and so reduce the length of the apprenticeship. “ [2]



[1] Extract taken from HEE – Answering your questions on the Nursing Associate role. Jan 2019

[2] Extract taken from – Studyiing nursing

[3] Extract taken from – Nursing Associate

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Updated on 17 June 2019 372 views