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Journalist to lead new review of healthcare assistants

Times journalist Camilla Cavendish has been asked by the government to conduct a study of healthcare assistants to ensure they have the necessary training standards, Nursing Times has learnt.

The move comes in response to recommendations in Robert Francis QC’s Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust public inquiry report that healthcare assistants should be subject to statutory regulation and receive more training.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “We want people to get the most safe, effective and compassionate care - so we need to make sure that the staff tasked with carrying out the most personal and fundamental support have the skills and values to provide this.

“Camilla Cavendish has been asked to conduct an independent study of healthcare and care assistants to ensure that they have the training and support they need to provide these most essential of services to the highest standards.”

Ms Cavendish was a contemporary of prime minister David Cameron at Oxford and chaired the chief nursing officer’s conference in Manchester last autumn. She has previously written articles indicating support for HCA regulation.

The government is in favour of voluntary regulation and has previously commissioned Skills for Health to produce training standards and a code of conduct for the workforce.

It is not clear how the latest review will fit with this work which is due to be published soon.

Readers' comments (34)

  • so, in three years time (usually the average time it seems to take anyone to do some sort of survey) the govt can say x%..............get a grip, we don't need the govt or the Times to do a survey. don't waste any more money please. we know that HCAs should be properly trained and competent, we know they should be regulated.

    We are not stupid.

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  • Any one involved in nursing or tutoring nursing do not seem to have any credit with this government, that is why they don't want to hear from us, even for free.
    All HCAs should be regulated and competent and as mention above I am not stupid.
    We nurses are really the outcast in this country.

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  • Why not Jenni Middleton?

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  • Before Camillia does this survey perhaps she should work as a HCA for at least a month on a busy short staffed acute ward. Then and and only maybe then she might have some credible working knowledge of the role.

    Perhaps a nurse can look into a poilticians job role and pass judgement!!! Or a fireman look into teaching standards.

    I can't help but feel she is sniffing for a 'bad news' story.
    Whatever next???

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  • News International / News Corps are hardly a beacon of truth and honesty and this government continues to cosy up it despite the condemnation and scorn poured on it via the Levenson enquiry and the House of Commons, Media Culture and Sport select committees, and yet here we have a journalist in their pay.
    What qualifies Camilla Cavendish to lead a study into Healthcare assistants aprt from the fact that she is a contemporary of David Cameron from Oxford and once chaired the CNO conference?

    The people best placed to study healthcare assistants and their roles are those that work alongside them everyday.... nurses / medics / and other Professions allied to health. It's my belief that the vast majority of health care assistants are appropriately trained and skilled to do the jobs for which they are paid, the majority of Trusts will have in place training programmes supported by the relevant evidence and flagging systems for when updates are due. Ward managers and staff nurses will support and monitor HCA on a shift by shift basis ( at least in theory).

    In effect they are already regulated and as i write this the postman has just dropped a demand for £100 on the doormat from the NMC.. oh the irony of it all.

    Feels like we NHS are to this government what the coal industry was to Thatcher in the 1980's.

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  • I vote for Susan Markham..........

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  • with all the meddling in nursing by unqualified non-specialists in the field, why don't we just drop job titles and qualifications altogether and just let people do what they fancy. they could just make the decision of what job they wish to do for the day when they wake up in the morning and get paid at an hourly rate with compulsory core hours to ensure sufficient productivity.

    it might just be fun to be the PM, Minister of Health or Chief of Nursing at the DH for a few weeks (don't all fight over these posts as places are limited - there could be a waiting list for these prestigious posts which should also be time limited to give every who wants a bash!).

    Employment and sufficient income for basic living costs would have to be obligatory so that no claims have to be made on any benefits allowing the system and unemployment to be scrapped.

    Alternatively, re-establish clear boundaries between jobs and professions and leave the nursing to nurses who are the only ones who fully understand it and its highly specialised management.

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  • What can I add, some fantastic comments and all very true. The NMC considered regulating HCA's then decided they could not afford to as they are already overspent trying to regulate the profession as it is.

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  • has DC really got a clue about anything? asking a journalist to carry out this study. it will cost a fortune, be biased, be flawed and will no doubt put the blame on nurses one way or the other.

    There are enough governing bodies and NHS departments to carry out this study, if it is even needed.

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  • Is this the same Camilla who worked for management consultants McKinseys who just happen to be used by the NHS.

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  • Susan Markham

    Anonymous | 14-Feb-2013 12:32 pm

    I have got to admit I too share your reservations.

    I am slightly wary of having a journalist making recommendations about nursing (especially since she was a contemporary of David Cameron at Brazen Nose College, Oxford...) but at least something is being done... I hope.

    On the plus side I remember that in 2008 she was awarded “the Paul Foot Award for Campaigning Journalism” [established by Private Eye and The Guardian.] In 2009 she was also awarded "Campaigning Journalist of the Year" at the British Press Awards.

    I tend to think that she will, indeed, do as thorough a job as she accomplished with getting Jack Straw to improve unfair aspects of the 1989 Child Protection Act that allowed children to be taken away from the care of their parents by family court hearings that were held behind closed doors.

    However good Camilla’s intentions are I fear that (like Sir Humphrey from “Yes Prime Minister) Cameron has been advised by his PS to ride out the fuss about the Francis Report recommendations, order a few surveys and a bit of research - which will take a couple of years... by which time the public will have forgotten the report itself. In any case it will be election time by then and the NHS is always low on the public’s priorities when it comes to voting!

    I hope I am very, very wrong about that last paragraph.


    Anonymous | 14-Feb-2013 12:51 pm

    Bless you, my monitor is now sprayed with coffee. You gave me a good chuckle!

    My vote goes to Jenni.

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  • Yes, it seems as though the government does not really want full regulation of HCA's. It certainly does not want to listen to NHS front-line staff, so adopts the time-honoured effective policy - divide and rule.

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  • She doesnt seem qualified given the recent piece in the Times. The same imbecilic assumptions rearing up again. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/camillacavendish/article3623515.ece

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  • This decision demonstrates the confidence which the PM has in the CNO(Eng) and all the other "Senior" nurses who have been assisting in the destruction and downgrading of the profession.

    Clearly the nursing academics do not command any confidence and have also been excluded from this conceptually simple question about HCA's

    Time to accept that the profession is DOOMED!

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  • if the profession made up of so many thousands is doomed, what will take its place?

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  • tinkerbell

    will it be a daily maul journalist? No problem with objectivity and having a hidden agenda there then?

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  • Actually its a bad idea to train health care assistants as then managers will be even more convinced they don't need registered nurses- either that or another level of 'untrained' assistants will be brought in. Trouble is everyone is expected to take on new more skilled tasks, it leads us away from holistic care and leaves no one to do basic care. Health care assistants are fine and well trained to do the delegated care as long as they are supervised and assisting the nurse not taking the place. Assistant - its in the job title after all.
    I am about to be audited in some sort of time and motion study to make sure I am not doing anything that could be done by someone on a lower grade. Its going to take some doing to change this culture- our managers actually believe the nonsense they spout.

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  • Is it April 1st?What does she know about it-she should only be allowed to write report if she is a HCA for at least 2 weeks!! That might deter her from making her usual sweeeping statements!!

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  • who is paying for this? how much is it going to cost?

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  • Yes But

    HCAs should have recognised and ongoing training and qualifications.

    But, perhaps instead of registering all HCAs, the system being proposed for the police might be simpler - you keep a register of everyone who has been proven unsuitable to work anywhere in healthcare (effectively, any HCA 'struck off from a non-existent register', would be placed on a register of unsuitable persons). That might be cheaper, sinmpler, and as effective ?

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