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HCAs are the backbone of the health service

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I am always impressed by the dedication and care shown by members of the healthcare team as they go about their work. Nowhere was this more evident than at UNISON’s recent healthcare assistant conference.

One message that came through loud and clear was how unvalued HCAs feel – and that worries me. No one goes to work determined not to recognise their colleagues’ hard work, but we sometimes forget how important it is to say ‘thank you’, and to look out for and care for each other.

One of our aims was that delegates would leave our conference knowing how much UNISON values them. And we succeeded – some said to my boss: ‘We’ve never been thanked so much in our lives – it was lovely.’

In this supplement we want to show just how important you, as HCAs, are to the future of healthcare. At the heart of this will be the debate over regulation – and I want to make it clear that UNISON does not support regulation based on grade. To us that is not public protection.

Nor do we support employer-led regulation – although employers have a vital role to play. HCAs want a framework comparable with those of other colleagues, including nurses. They also want independence and standards that protect the public while ensuring consistency in roles and responsibilities.

It is clear that most patients believe that people who care for them at home or in hospital should be regulated. The time for debate is over, it’s time for action and UNISON will continue to play a key role in ensuring that what is put in place works for our members and the people they care for.

Education and training play a key role in enabling HCAs to meet their potential – whether remaining HCAs and doing their job to the best of their ability or progressing into professional training. UNISON has developed a huge range of educational materials specifically to meet your needs and will continue to do so.

I am proud to be UNISON’s head of nursing. It’s a privilege to meet so many members who spend their lives caring for others. I am truly grateful for all your hard work and dedication – you are simply the best.

Gail Adams, Head of Nursing, UNISON

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