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Mid Staffs inquiry: lack of HCA regulation a serious issue


Pressure is mounting on ministers to consider statutory regulation of healthcare assistants after the chair of the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust public inquiry revealed it was top of his list of concerns.

Speaking at the inquiry’s closing session this week, Robert Francis QC set out 20 issues he would be considering when producing his recommendations, due to be published next year.

The regulation and training of HCAs was first on the list. Also of concern are the training and standards of registered nurses, the nature and scope of a duty of candour, protection for whistleblowers and the impact of skill mix and staffing levels on safety and quality of care.

The government announced plans for a voluntary register for HCAs last month and has said it does not favour compulsory registration on cost grounds.

However, health minister Earl Howe has previously committed to “consider carefully” Mr Francis’ recommendations and to bring forward another health bill to implement them if necessary. 

Counsel to the inquiry Tom Kark QC, who is Mr Francis’ key adviser, said the lack of HCA regulation and registration appeared to be a “surprising and potentially dangerous” gap in the healthcare system.

He accused the government of failing to deal with the issue due to the “size of the problem”.


Readers' comments (2)

  • michael stone

    No, I do not agree that 'The regulation and training of HCAs was first on the list'.

    'the nature and scope of a duty of candour, protection for whistleblowers' is first on the list, in my opinion - because 'paying attention to concerns' should resolve most other problems.

    One of today's papers, carried:

    'Between 2004 and 2008, A&E staff nurse Helene Donelly submitted more than 50 reports warning the hospital managers about risks to patients from faulty equpment, untrained staff and lack of staff. Despite always ticking the box on the form saying she wanted feedback, she received none'.

    The problem is how concerns are handled - if complaints and concerns are treated properly, then the issues should be addressed adequately.

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  • I read the story on the regulation of HCA with interest. I work in Scotland in a care home as a carer. I am registered with the Scottish Social Services Council - the cost is £20 per 5 years. Like nurses, we have to have 10 days/60 hours relevant training courses. To work as a carer, I have to be registered, and if I apply for another job in the future, I would also have to be a member of the Protection of Vulnerable groups register. What is most important, a well trained and educated group of staff, or cost? If nurses and doctors have to be registered, then why not care staff?

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