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Conservatives: HCAs part of nursing 'profession'

The Conservatives have confirmed their support of graduate level entry for registered nurses and clarified their definition of “nursing” to include HCAs.

The party was under growing pressure to clarify its position after shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley told Nursing Times that degrees should not be “an entry requirement to the profession.”

Shadow health minister Anne Milton then appeared to contradict Mr Lansley’s announcement by telling Nursing Times there was “no doubt” that registered nurses needed degrees.

This week the Tories said Mr Lansley’s definition of “nursing profession” included healthcare assistants.

A spokesman said: “These people provide care for patients in a nursing fashion and that’s part of the wider terminology of nursing.”

“Some nurses will start out in these roles and they can still then take the training to become a registered nurse, but in order to become registered nurses will need to have a degree,” he said.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council is currently running a consultation on the future of pre registration nurse education. The profession is due to become graduate only entry by 2013.

Readers' comments (16)

  • Inconsistent. Headline grabbing. Sound biting waste of time.

    It's funny, in the light of growing controversy over Lansley's comments he suddenly changes his tune...

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  • Soon each ward will be a team of HCAs, supervised by one registered nurse who will go around and do the IVs.

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  • What a good idea. HCA's can now be held, as professional's, responsible AND accountable for the care they give. This will take an enormous amount of responsibility from 'proper', sorry, Registered Nurses. Because quite frankly one spends too much time worrying about, and checking up on the work of HCA's and this would be a great move. Thank you, Mr. Lansley.

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  • "Soon each ward will be a team of HCAs, supervised by one registered nurse who will go around and do the IVs"

    It was "ever thus" - anyone who implies that registered nurses delivered "hands on care" in the past is deluding themselves - we have attempted to address this over the last twenty or so years and it clearly has not worked - so we look like recognising the unfortunate failure of this "brilliant mistake" and returning to care being delivered by "support" workers (which used by auxillaries and a multitude of students and is now "practitioners" with a variety of titles) who are closely "managed" by a smaller group of registered nurses - I have not necessarily a problem with that personally as long as it is patient care driven - I would just like a bit of honesty and openness from all concerned rather than either the political point scoring or the wringing of hands from the perenially "downtrodden" professionals. Neither of these stand points do anybody any good - least of all patients

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  • Lynnie

    Anyone old enought to remember 30 years ago ? We had domestic staff - who did a good job of the cleaning, what would now be called Health Care Support Workers - who had little training but were a steady, consistent support on wards doing most of the basic nursing care, SEN's who did a 2 year course and were excellent hands-on nurses and SRN's - who did a more accademic 3 year course and took care of the day to day running, organisation, drug rounds etc.
    Then along came project 2000 that amongst other things got rid of all the SEN's (at great cost) and now we are going back to a 2 teir system again.
    Ahhhhhh progress ! Are there ANY benefits to the patients in this paper chase?

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  • Yes, lets do think about the patients. I have been a patient myself a few times and I know who I would rather have to look after me. A registered nurse who has the underpinning knowledge to recognise when there is a problem and the competence and confidence to know when to intervene. Some HCSW's already call themselves "nurses" and the public/patients naturally think they are qualified and accountable. Lets clear up the confusion once and for all.

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  • Dear all I am a band 3 health care assistant and do no try to be a "registered nurse" in anyway shape or form.
    I also understand the fact that you all have the "underpinning knowledge" behind what you practice.

    However run your ward, department or clinic without us and see how far you get.

    Who does the basic care? Who gives you the information to write your care plan and nursing progress? Who does all the work that you delegate. That will be me!


    So cut us some slack and for once give us a thank you or pat on the back for the job we help you do.

    Anyone of you who has a bit of truth in you could not honestly say you could run your area without us!!

    A very fed up healthcare assistant undervalued by trained members of staff!!!

    but I am "just an auxiliary" aren't I?

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  • i agree with the above comment as i think people get so caught up in the current political climate and all the implications it brings on workload, accountability and status that they forget how absolutely invaluable HCAs are. They provide hands on care, interact with patients and families and should work alongside nurses and doctors to be valued members of the team. However i do not think there should be a move towards over reliance of HCAs at the cost of registered nurses. On my ward a move has been made towards making the ratio of trained to untrained staff 60:40. Im sure to the people that balance the books and hold the purse strings thats a great bargain, BUT there are many things an HCA cant do and on a High dependany ward such as mine where the day is dominated by giving IVS, chemotherapy, supportive care and endless drugs it is very difficult to a) supervise an HCAs practice, b)fulfil all the patients basic care needs and c) be able to work without delegating most of the routine hands on patient care to HCAs, who are often over burdened themselves.
    We are in fact IV and Chemotherapy technicians. somedays i rarely see some of my patients and on the days where we dont have an HCA on duty (there are only 2 for the whole ward) we struggle enormously. This is not what i signed up to Nursing for!!!

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  • I started nursing as a HCA and am finishing it as a Senior Sister. I have also been a recent patient and have had relatives as patients. The same issue drives my feelings on HCA as did when I started, when my training as a HCA was 'go and do that...' no explanation of how or why. HCA need proper training and supervision for their sakes and those of their patients. Without it you are risking poor care at least- good example being giving food to a blind old lady and not telling her where it is. Nursing is not a thing some people naturally fall into. ALL nurses need decent training end of story.

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  • NVQ training requires the HCA to write about the care they give and why. It doesnt have to referenced like in a university essay but it does have to be correct.

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  • I too began my nursing career as an auxiliary in Nov 77. Interview 3pm with matron/nursing officer. Uniform dept 4:30pm taken personally by matron! Kitted out and on the ward 5pm!! Induction? what was that then? Still here, now trained and management, but remember well being asked for info re a patient's leg ulcer status as Sister had not seen it for weeks personally. I always acknowledge HCA's as I know when they wore pink it was invisible to anyone in blue or a suit (unless upto date info was required). I do however think changing uniforms to make them "part of the blue team" makes them appear unhelpful sometimes when asked "technical" questions by the public - who assume they should know the answer as their level of training is not really clear. Well done you HCA's the wards simply would not run without you.

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  • Instead of moaning about having to monitor the work of HCAs, we should be thinking of a way of introducing some kind of formal training for them.

    Opps! silly me that would mean paying them more......!

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  • I agree with Leeann above, I think that acknowledging the value that HCA's bring to the team is vital and not spoken anywhere near enough. I also think supporting their learning in a structired, formalised and non-threatening environment is vital. This will lead to a more skilled and functional team and yes, they need to be paid according to that level of learning and achievement.

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  • Out with your wallet Mr Lansley!!

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  • I am a student nurse and was a hca a few years ago, im sorry but there is a very big difference between a hca and a nurse. Im working dame hard to become a nurse and i found the comment on here about that nurses can not run the wards without a hca or even more insulting that we couldnt write a care plann with out a HCA!!!!!! excuse me but does a hca have all the underpinning knowledge to know what goes in to a care plan? no i dont think thay do, yet againe it goes back to them an us, we are suppose to work as a TEAM so why do people get confused of thier roles on the ward? I would suggest to people who are saying thay can do what the nurse does dont just say it go to university and become a nurse!

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  • I stumbled across this article accidently whilst looking for something else.

    The feeling of consternation was so great at reading the above post, that I simply had to register and reply.

    Swap HCA with nurse 'practitioner', and nurse for doctor, and you'll understand exactly how we (I'm a medic) feel about nurses who attempt to prescribe and diagnose.

    Get off your pedestals

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