Derek Blackshaw, RCN vice-chairperson of Salisbury and South Wiltshire branch, told congress HCA regulation was urgently needed because they were being increasingly employed in advanced practitioner roles, often on bands 3 and 4.
‘A healthcare assistant who has misbehaved can go from one employer to another,’ he warned delegates.
‘A nurse who has been removed from the register can also become a healthcare assistant, where they can be a danger to service users. We must have an independent register to make sure there is protection.’
His views were endorsed by 55% of voting members, who passed a resolution calling for the RCN to mount a campaign to urge government to regulate advanced healthcare assistants and establish a new national standard for their practice.
Some delegates felt that the resolution did not go far enough. RCN Scotland member Paul Philips told congress he thought there needed to be regulation for all healthcare support workers (HCSWs).
But Soline Jerram, RCN Berkshire East branch, argued that enrolled nurses should be re-introduced instead.
‘Why don’t we support bringing back a second level of qualified nursing,’ she said.
A round-table discussion on regulation revealed that the government itself planned to produce recommendations on the regulation of HCSWs by the end of the year.
Gavin Larner, director of professional regulation for the Department of Health, said the government needed to ensure that any regulation of HCSWs ‘did not need to suck more people in than needed to be there’.
The DH needed to look at the individual roles of HCSWs and what they were doing with patients rather than banding, he added.