Members of the House of Lords have rejected calls to make the regulation of healthcare assistants compulsory.
The existing wording of the health and social care bill provides for the establishment of a voluntary register for HCAs. However, during a debate on the bill yesterday, Baroness Masham of Ilton tabled an amendment calling for registration to be mandatory.
She said: “Healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners are carrying out more and more of what are seen as nursing procedures. It is not always possible to supervise them on a busy ward or in somebody’s own home. Surely there should be a mandatory register accompanied by a programme of basic standardised training.
“A voluntary register is likely to be too weak and in any event it will be avoided by the very people about whom there is most concern,” she said.
The amendment received some support, including from Lord Hunt, the former health minister and former chair of the National Patient Safety Agency.
However, government health spokeswoman Baroness Northover rejected it, saying there was not enough evidence that mandatory regulation was necessary to protect patients.
She added: “Compulsory statutory regulation… is not a panacea. It is no substitute for good leadership at every level and proper and visible management of health and social care services.”
The Lords will have one more chance to consider the amendment when the bill goes to its next stage.