Hope is growing that the Health Bill can be amended to ensure healthcare assistants are regulated, despite government resistance to such a move.
Campaigning bodies, including the Royal College of Nursing, believe public and parliamentary opinion is moving in favour of HCA regulation, following the outcry over care standards at the Winterbourne View care home in Bristol where BBC Panorama exposed the abuse of patients - much of it apparently perpetrated by unqualified support staff.
The recent government document setting out changes to the Health Bill made no reference to HCA regulation, despite the panel of experts assembled to recommend changes to the bill calling for a review of policy on the issue (news, page 4, 21 June).
However, one peer told Nursing Times that a number of Lords saw the regulation of HCAs as a priority and were likely to table or support amendments to the bill accordingly.
“I’m absolutely committed to assisting in any way that I can to ensure that support workers are regulated in some way,” the peer said.
RCN head of policy development Howard Catton said the college had been lobbying MPs and peers on the long-standing issue of whether HCAs should be regulated and, if so, how to go about it. He said: “There’s been growing recognition over the past few months that the regulation of HCAs is a very serious issue.”