Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Support from nurse leaders for senior HCA role to bridge skills gap

  • 17 Comments

Nurse leaders say they support the creation of a senior care assistant role to bridge the gap between support staff and registered nurses, insisting the move would not “dumb down” the profession.

The nursing directors, who were speaking as part of a panel session on workforce challenges at Nursing Times’ Directors’ Congress in Brighton last week, said it represented a “professional response” to the current workforce challenge.

“The reality is we have got to do something different”

Janice Stevens

Janice Stevens, interim chief nurse at Barts Health NHS Trust in London, said: “The reality is we have got to do something different. The gap between band 2 – who are trained with the care certificate and doing lots of the care – to graduates, feels to me, when you’ve to 1,000 vacancies, too big.”

She added: “I don’t know why we can’t have a well-trained person who is supporting care that is regulated and trained to a higher standard.

“That is not dumbing down our profession, it is about recognising care is complex and spans lots of needs…. We’ve got to get off our professional high horse for the sake of quality,” said Ms Stevens.

Ruth May, nurse director at regulator Monitor, said she also supported the proposal for the new role, referred to by some as the associate nurse.

“It’s not a financial issue, it’s about a professional response to a challenge we are seeing. I do support the associate nurse and I do support them being regulated,” she said.

“I think it would give them a career pathway. We’ve got some great people out there who would love to do the associate nurse role,” she added.

“We’ve got some great people out there who would love to do the associate nurse role”

Ruth May

Maggie Davies, deputy director of nursing at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who was also on the panel, backed the introduction of the role as well. She said: “We have to do something different. We have toy tackle it now because it’s not safe for our patients.”

As exclusively revealed by Nursing Times last week, national workforce planning body Health Education England will be piloting the role at 30 sites across the country in 2016.

The idea for the new position was first put forward in the Shape of Caring Review earlier this year, which looked at education and training for both nurses and healthcare support workers.

However, the Royal College of Nursing said in a briefing paper earlier this month that it did not support the creation of a new role “to plug a perceived gap between healthcare support workers and registered nurses”.

  • 17 Comments

Readers' comments (17)

  • Things are not kept anonymous. Surely if some people were present,when a incident occurred it would be pretty obvious who had "whistle-blowed". The carers on temporary or zero-hour contracts would be particulary vulnerable to harassment .
    However, I have had in the past, reported concerns to a Registered Manager,(e,g bullying of a client with "funny remarks", PRN being given lavishly instead of diversionary techniques first--step intervention as per Care-plan, other people were concernced but didn't want to put" their heads over the parapet "nothing changed The client withdraw to his room whenever a certain shift was on duty but fortunately he did get a different home and supportive staff. I moved to a another work-place. It affected my health, and subsequent life.But I still endorse appropriate "whistle blowing" I would go straight to CQC and I can fully appreciate it when some go to local media .

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I bet they do,it will save them rolling up their sleeves and helping out! Labour on the cheap and dangerous. You're either qualified to degree level or you're not and this in-between racket is just that- a racket pure and simple.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • dtbarron

    Anonymous 12:16 - you are absolutely right; I am astounded that nurses cannot see this 'new' role will be a replacement for the registered nurse.

    Even reading the words of the senior (Directors) nurses quoted, they are clear this is a workforce issue, not quality, not care - it's simply feet on the ground.

    In Scotland we have many band 2&3 HCAs delivering high quality care as directed by a registrant, the registrant remains accountable and they work as a team.

    This proposal is ill conceived and we will regret selling off our profession for (possible) short term gain of feet on the ground - care will not be enhanced.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Enrolled Nurses were all about giving a high standard of beside patient care. They were level 2 nurses and on the 'Roll' of nurses and regulated by the Nursing Council. When at work they were accountable to the SRN in charge of the ward. They had a more formal education than an HCA and so bridged the gap between HCA and Staff Nurse. What goes around comes around. SRN's were never undermined by them in fact it worked very well.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • coming from the hair -nails and high heels brigade....

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I think this is really good move..i have seen the downside of staffing in some nhs trust and its the patients safety that are at risk here,the success of associate role would be very beneficial of course with the right scope and limitations. So its the quality of care that we are talking here..if we continue to experience understaffing then thats totally fatal, for those who think Oh i have been to uni and finished my 3 yrs i get that that wake up people nhs is in the verge of fatality due to lack of workforce now if we can utilize our senior hca who are great enough to step up for the associate role then why not.. My opinion only.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I think this is really good move..i have seen the downside of staffing in some nhs trust and its the patients safety that are at risk here,the success of associate role would be very beneficial of course with the right scope and limitations. So its the quality of care that we are talking here..if we continue to experience understaffing then thats totally fatal, for those who think Oh i have been to uni and finished my 3 yrs i get that that wake up people nhs is in the verge of fatality due to lack of workforce now if we can utilize our senior hca who are great enough to step up for the associate role then why not.. My opinion only.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Show 1020results per page

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.