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Trainee nursing associate programme

In January 2017, HEE launched a trainee nursing associate programme, with the first two waves of trainees based at 35 partnerships that delivered a programme of education and training in academic and work-based settings.

2017 test site partnerships

Each partnership was aligned with a Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) footprint and composed of at least one employer and one education provider (Higher Education Institution). Employers included care homes, acute, community and mental health trusts and hospices, and primary care (GPs), representing the variety of settings in which nursing associates will provide care for patients. Two thousand trainee nursing associates joined the programme within waves 1 and 2.

Nursing associate rollout 2018 onwards

Expansion of the role has continued into 2018 (wave 3) and 2019 (wave 4). In 2018 around 5,000 Trainee Nursing Associates were enrolled onto programmes. HEE is committed to a further 7,500 starting the programme by March 2020.


Health Education England (HEE) commissioned an independent evaluation of the first two years of the programme to June 2019, which was published in October 2019. Read the evaluation.

Traverse has been commissioned by HEE to continue evaluation of the introduction of nursing associates in 2019-20. This has included a ‘deep dive’ into how organisations involved in the programme have deployed nursing associates in different sectors and the benefits and challenges associated with investing in the new role. The documents below summarise findings from an analysis of HEE data and in-depth interviews with employers.

Deep dives focused on learning disabilities and mental health are in progress and will be shared in due course.