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Unions back Francis on HCAs and staffing

Calls for the regulation of healthcare assistants and safe staffing levels have been broadly welcomed by health unions.

Unison and Unite both responded today to the publication of the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust public inquiry report.

Unison said “critically” the Francis report had highlighted the “basic necessity for safe staffing levels and for wards to have the right skills mix to deliver high quality, compassionate and dignified patient care”. 

The union’s head of health Christina McAnea noted that Unison had been campaigning for “many years” on the importance of having the right number of staff with the right mix of skills on wards.

“We welcome the report’s recommendation for registration of healthcare assistants, and this must come with a clear commitment to invest in their training and ensure they are supported to deliver safe, compassionate and dignified patient care,” she said.

“The government must implement the recommendations speedily and in full,” she added. 

The union also supported the inquiry’s call for a change in NHS culture that promoted more candour and openness.

Meanwhile, Unite chose to call on NHS Commissioning Board chief executive Sir David Nicolson to resign in its response to the Francis report – though this did feature among its recommendations.

Unite national officer for health Rachael Maskell said: “Sir David Nicolson, who has thrown down the so-called Nicolson challenge of £20bn cuts, is not the person to lead the NHS into the world of patient-focused care as outlined by Robert Francis.

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