Welsh Government plans for introduction of a regulated nursing role for the NHS in Wales, subject to the necessary UK legislative amendments.

In a statement, Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services, said:

“Today (19 January 2024) 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. This decision is based on the biggest and most impactful review of nursing in Wales since the introduction of the graduate nurse in 2004.

“Last year I commissioned a project to explore the options and opportunities to inform a policy position and recommendations for the future of the band 4 nursing workforce across NHS Wales. The aim being to consider whether a registered and regulated band 4 role would be desirable, appropriate and of value within NHS Wales. The work is intrinsically linked to the Welsh Government National Workforce Implementation Plan: Addressing NHS Wales Workforce Challenges, published in February 2023.”

A fundamental outcome of the project confirmed 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. This approach will 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.

The report includes 20 recommendations divided between Welsh Government, Health Education and Improvement Wales, health boards and NHS trusts to action and I have accepted all the recommendations in full.

Legislative amendments to the Nursing and Midwifery Order (2001) are required to introduce the Registered Nursing Associate role into Wales. These are powers reserved by the UK Government. 

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Andrea Sutcliffe, NMC Chief Executive and Registrar, said:

“More than 10,000 nursing associates have joined our register since 2019, helping to bridge the gap between registered nurses and health and care assistants in England. The role has also proved a successful pathway for almost 1,500 professionals who have gone on to become registered nurses. We know they’ve made a valuable contribution to safe, kind and effective care for people using health and social care services.

“We welcome the request from the minister to regulate nursing associates in Wales. This needs to be discussed and decided by our Council, and subject to their approval, it would require the UK government to make changes to our legislation. We look forward to working with our partners on this important proposal.”

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