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Workforce planning and deployment of nursing associates

If you’re considering introducing nursing associates, effective workforce planning can help you:

  • strengthen your organisation’s understanding of current and future demand for services
  • understand how the nursing associate role can support with meeting this demand
  • define how the role will fit within the multidisciplinary team
  • support your business case to present to the board.

The role of nursing associates within a multi-disciplinary team

Nursing associates play an active role as members of interdisciplinary teams, collaborating and communicating effectively with nurses, a range of other health and care professionals and lay carers.

To use the workforce efficiently and effectively it is important to identify the skills needed to deliver the care required and deploy the right staff to deliver that care.

Understanding the proficiencies of each role at the point of registration will help with safely deploying nursing associates. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has summarised its standards of proficiency for both the registered nurse and nursing associate role as shown in the table below.

There are tools and guidance available to support employers with workforce planning, including:

Workforce modelling template for nursing associates

The HEE London team has produced this template to help you look at all the tasks your current nursing and support staff are undertaking and consider how those tasks could be assigned differently in the future.

Workforce Repository and Planning Tool (WRaPT)

This is a web-based strategic planning tool for health and social care that enables the collection, analysis and modelling of workforce information to establish the relationship between capacity and service activity.

Six Steps methodology to Integrated Workforce Planning (Skills for Care)

This is a practical approach to planning that ensures you have a workforce of the right size with the right skills and competences. The Methodology identifies those elements that should be in any workforce plan, considering the current and future demand for services, the local demographic situation and the impact on other services.

Recipe for Workforce planning (HEE)

This process map describes the different roles involved in workforce planning and the stages relevant to each role. You can also find reports, documents and case studies relating to workforce planning at links and resources.

HEE Star

The HEE Star is a directory of offers, products, and resources available through Health Education England to support those providing healthcare services in addressing workforce challenges. 

NHS England and NHS Improvement offers a self-assessment tool that supports trusts to carry out an organisational diagnosis and identify areas of improvement.

NHS Employers has a section on its website around workforce planning.

Safe, sustainable and productive staffing improvement resource for the deployment of nursing associates in secondary care, National Quality Board, Jan 2019

This resource helps providers of NHS-commissioned services, boards and executive directors to support their secondary care professionals to deploy nursing associates as part of their clinical teams.

It describes the principles for safe staffing including organisational, managerial and clinical setting factors alongside governance, leadership and reporting to ensure that nursing associates are safely and effectively deployed into the workforce. 

CQC Briefing for providers: Nursing associates, Jan 2019

This briefing note is relevant to all health and social care providers in England. It explains the nursing associate role and how it can be deployed appropriately in a way that is safe and supports delivery of high-quality care. The note includes:

- links to guidance about this new role and what it means for services

- what to be aware of under the Health and Social Care Act and specific regulated activities

- how CQC will consider the new role in its inspection and regulation.