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Lords launch fresh bid for regulation of HCAs

Peers are pushing for changes to legislation that would make mandatory training and regulation of healthcare assistants law.

In a series of proposed amendments to the government’s Care Bill legislation – currently on its way through the Lords – members of the upper house yesterday called for new legislation to bring into force new standards for HCAs.

The four members of the Lords put forward a series of amendments similar to recommendations in the recent independent Cavendish Review of HCAs, which was commissioned by the governement.

The amendment calls for the new quango Health Education England to develop mandatory training and certification for HCAs, which would be split into basic and advanced levels with the curriculum set by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

The changes demand all employers be responsible for making sure health and social care support workers are trained and that they keep a register of such staff. They also suggest making it a criminal offence for a trust to employ an HCA who does not hold the required certificates.

The peers behind the amendment include Liberal Democrat Lord Willis of Knaresborough, who last year published the findings of a review for the Royal College of Nursing on nursing education, which backed HCA regulation.  

The others are former nurse and cross-bench peer Baroness Emerton and Labour peers Lord Patel and Lord Warner.

The proposed amendment must be approved by the government for it to become law.

Fellow Labour peers Lord Hunt and Baroness Wheeler have also proposed a system of regulation for HCAs and called for the Care Quality Commission to be made to take into account guidance on staffing and skill mix when it inspects hospitals.

The government has already said it wants to see mandatory training of HCAs, but has consistently opposed the idea of regulation.

The Royal College of Nursing and Union have been long term supporters of HCA regulation.

It was recommended by the Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery, which was set up under Gordon Brown, as well as the Francis report into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust in February.

Readers' comments (7)

  • The NMC should not be involved in this at all as HCAs are not nurses and I don't want my £100 wasted on this kind of meaningless none sense.

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  • Everything goes round and round in circles and cycles if we wait long enough.

    This is about the return of Enrolled nurses, but with a different name (if they kept the same name, the previous enrolled nurses might sue for loss of contract).

    The suggested basic and advanced levels: that's just a return to auxiliary and enrolled nurses. Gosh, I feel old all of a sudden!

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  • While the NMC should be involved in this I am concerned about newly registered nurses and employment. It is easier to find a post as a care assistant than a registered nurse. Nurses should be supervising HCA's and as someone above has said these are not nurses. Who selects them and what is the academic entry criteria going to be.

    Nursing is loosing sight of itself as a profession.

    M

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  • I think that there should be standards and requirements greater than NVQ 2 Healthcare. Anyone can become an HCA and evidently the lack of care and commitment shows.
    We shouldn't have to train a human to be caring, but unfortunately we need to.

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  • I think some of the comments above are grossly unfair, and very disparaging to a group of largely hard working and -despite what is alleged above - caring people.

    I can only assume that the above comments are made by either a young, inexperienced nurse or who has little experience of the wider disciplines.

    I have known many kind, caring HCA's who take their position seriously and attend every study day and seek further training at every opportunity.
    Many have not taken full nursing training due to circumstances; indeed a good friend of mine was a trained SEN and has recently been working as a HCA whilst awaiting her return to nursing. She has often commented on the lack of understanding and lofty ideas of many young inexperienced newly trained and nursing students

    If there was a choice between my aforementioned friend looking after me or the very blinkered 6:59pm above, I no who I would choose.

    Trained nurses do NOT have any monopoly on caring or commitment, I no many that have none.

    We should be lucky that there are many people willing to work in such conditions on such low pay, who are obviously thought about in such disparaging fashion.

    My only concern is who is going to pay for this regulation? Surely not HCA's who are already paid little over minimum wage for such back breaking and unappreciated work?

    Otherwise trained nurses will just have to go back to being hand maidens; washing, feeding, dressing and bedpans for the majority of their time. Maybe now would be a good time to review whether a degree is actually needed to become a nurse if it just turns out nurses with their noses stuck so far up their bottoms that they look down on their minions so poorly.

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  • Re 9:21 above

    The blame for the fact that care assistants and HCA jobs are easier to find should not be laid at the feet of the CA/HCA's themselves, but with the employers.

    This is systematic downgrading of the NHS by this government who obviously have a bone to pick with nursing in general. Probably because they are planning to sell all the lucrative parts of the NHS to their friends so that they can make yet more money on the taxpayer. Nurses used to be united in defence of the NHS, but it seems this government have succeded in setting carers against each other.

    The fight should be taken to the government, not carping about HCA's who are not paid well anyway.

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  • I have my concerns about HCA regulation as there needs to be a standard to which you can regulate against and this is seriously lacking within the widely diverse role of a HCA. The Government need to address this issue and give Trusts enforcable standards with which to employ HCAs. This is such a huge task that I fear it will not be addressed with the manpower and funding required in a time where funding is being so stringently cut across training throughout the NHS.

    As for the attitude of some of the nurses comments above, I am thoroughly ashamed. As an experienced nurse I have worked with many exceptional HCAs and have great admiration for the way they work despite such attitudes

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