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Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust

Board meeting minutes suggest HCA recruitment 'to cover nursing gaps'


Public minutes from a Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust board meeting suggested the trust intends to recruit healthcare assistants to cover gaps in its qualified nursing rotas.

Minutes presented to the trust board this month make reference to the recruitment of HCAs, saying: “The trust is to employ between 70 and 100 healthcare assistants to cover some of the gaps in nurses.”

The trust later said the minutes were “open to interpretation” and said it was committed to a full establishment of both nurses and HCAs.

Recent research has shown an association between increased numbers of HCAs and an increase in patient mortality and poorer outcomes.

The national shortage of nurses has forced many trusts to seek nurses from overseas including Gloucester Hospitals, which has launched a bid to recruit up to 40 overseas nurses who need support to get NMC registration.

It has previously recruited nurses from Portugal as part of efforts to plug gaps in its rotas.

A spokeswoman for the trust said the organisation accepted that the language used in the minutes was “open to interpretation” but that its board was “absolutely committed to a full establishment of registered general nurses and HCAs”.

“The minute as reported in our board paper should not be interpreted as meaning that these HCAs will be substituting or replacing RGNs on our wards,” she told Nursing Times’ sister title Health Service Journal.

“Instead, these HCAs will be in addition to our nursing workforce, and will be supporting the nursing teams in caring for our patients,” she said.

She added: “Our HCAs do an incredible job and are a valuable part of our workforce. However, we recognise the different level of skill sets required in each role and the importance of that blend in ensuring high quality patient care is strengthened on our wards.”


Readers' comments (4)

  • Whilst recognising the great work the HCA's do it is obvious that they are not a substitute for qualified nurses. However over the years the numbers have increased on many wards while the number of qualified staff have fallen. Can anyone really say that is a coincidence?

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  • They are different roles how can a HCA replace a nurse? If this was the case then it just goes to show how misunderstood an RNs role is. Why not just do away with nurse training altogether ? Or maybe the government's next plan is to have RNs replacing doctors after all a lot of them will walk eventually. Don't get me wrong I totally appreciate HCA's but they are task orientated , nurses have the theory behind the practice , the same as I don't diagnose as I'm not qualified to do so.

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  • I think they are referring for those HCA who are qualified nurse in their home country but working as a care assistant here in uk. Because of the English exam that they need to pass and the new comp. base exam etc. before registering to NMC and get their pin number. not all HCA doesn't have any background in medical field, most of them are really well trained nurses back in their homeland.

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  • theory...i am sorry but when the pressure is on...the background and depth of knowledge really does to come to the for when decision making.
    It is not the fault of the upgraded Hca and the hospitals should be shamed of themselves for putting such willing people in responsible positions making them open to scrutiny

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