Assistant practitioners

Nurse and scanner

Developing the role of the assistant practitioner can help employers to have the flexible mix of skills required to meet complex patient needs, freeing up registered practitioners to deliver what they have been uniquely trained for. 

How can you use assistant practitioners to meet patient needs?

An assistant practitioner is a non-occupational specific role that has been developed to assist organisations to deliver high quality, patient-centred care in a variety of settings. Although they are not registered practitioners they have a high level of skill through their experience and training. They can support employers in areas of skill shortages or where there are recruitment difficulties. Assistant practitioners can provide a career pathway for healthcare assistants, or as a route to registered professional roles such as a nurse, dietitian, physiotherapist, or healthcare science practitioner. 

The Skills for Health Core standards for assistant practitioners state that assistant practitioners: "have a required level of knowledge and skill beyond that of the traditional healthcare assistant or support worker. The assistant practitioner would be able to deliver elements of health and social care and undertake clinical work in domains that have previously only been within the remit of registered professionals.”

When developing an assistant practitioner role, it is important to focus on why the role is required. To aid team building, there should be clarity around the duties and responsibilities of the role and what the intended outcomes are.

The resources below can help employers when developing an assistant practitioner role within their organisation.


Skills for Health has published Core standards for assistant practitioners. They were developed to standardise the role and promote consistency and transferability. They comprise six high level standards and can be used as a basis for constructing and defining an assistant practitioner role.

Health Careers provides helpful details about the kind of roles assistant practitioners can undertake in NHS settings.

The Calderdale Framework provides a clear seven step method of reviewing skill mix and roles within a service to ensure quality and safety for patients. The framework supports the development of new roles and new ways of working, leading to improved efficiency in utilisation of roles such as the assistant practitioner. 

You can now use your apprenticeship levy to fund an assistant practitioner apprenticeship at level 5. For more information visit the Skills for heath website.

Find out more about how you can develop your support workforce.

Assistant practitioners in practice

  • Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is using new models of care to overcome workforce supply challenges. Using the concept of building a team around the patient, based on identified skills needed to deliver best care, the trust has introduced trainee nursing associates and assistant practitioners who, when qualified will provide capacity for the band 5 staff to work to the top of their licence. 

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