• assistant practitioners;
  • clinical role development;
  • health-care assistants;
  • skill mix

Aim  This paper documents findings from a service evaluation of clinical managers’ (n = 5) perceptions of the assistant practitioner (AP) training programme in one National Health Service (NHS) Trust in South East England, UK.

Background  The AP has been identified in England as a means for supporting registered nurses and enhancing patient care. The development of the AP role requires managers to consider how the role will be embedded and how they work with education providers.

Methods  This service evaluation interviewed five clinical managers who have supported APs in relation to their function for the specialist clinical role.

Results  The AP role should be defined by competence, boundaries and the skill mix needed for specific clinical team function. Careful recruitment is vital and mentors need clear outcomes for the AP role. Managers need to be involved in all levels of the programme, from liaison with the Higher Education Institute and Trust decisions on role job descriptions and employment.

Conclusions  Recruitment is vital, individuals have to be flexible and responsive to change and should be used in relation to their clinical competence. A competency framework for all health-care workers was the managers’ desire for job descriptions and assessment of practice so that every member of the health-care team was ‘fit for purpose’.

Implications for nursing management  Nurse managers need to work with workforce leads when considering introduction of new roles so appropriate skill mix is achieved and the AP role is embedded.