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HCAs: the heart of healthcare

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As I write this, I have just had first-hand experience of the NHS at its finest. I turned up as requested at 7am for my admission and was greeted by a young HCA who checked me in then directed me to my bed space. She showed all the patients around individually so we all knew where everything was.

I was then admitted and seen by everyone - my referral and admission all happened within a couple of days. Seen by my GP with a lump on Thursday, within four working days I had a hospital admission date.

Needless to say, had this been 1989 instead of 2009, that never would have happened and it made me sit and seriously think just how much the NHS has changed under the current government. People’s roles have changed and the much-criticised targets have made a real difference to the speed with which patients are seen.

Fundamentally, we all want high-quality, compassionate care and that’s just what I received.

It made me realise how little we recognise that work is so busy that we often forget to look out for each other. As I lay there, I saw how everyone was running around on a busy ward with little time to say ‘hello, how are you?’

I received faultless care from a multinational team. It reminded me how proud I am to represent such a diverse group of people.

So I am now a commissioner for the Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery - fancy that, me from South London surrounded by all these titles. I was asked what I thought I would bring to the commission and, to sum it up in one word, I think it’s reality. I am looking forward to getting out and hearing what people actually want from the commission, as this is a real opportunity to engage with the profession and shape the future of nursing.

And it’s on this note that we bring you our second HCA supplement, with a heavy focus on those who wish to stay in their current role and do it to the best of their ability.

I have been out and about a lot over the last three months visiting many hospitals and staff, and I want to thank everyone for taking the time to make me feel so welcome.

Let me know what you think of this supplement - email me at or, if you are at our health conference, come and tell me in person.

Gail Adams, Head of Nursing, UNISON

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Readers' comments (1)

  • If you are so enamoured with the care that we as Nurses give under quite frankly often dangerous working conditions, then why not fight to get us the pay level we deserve that reflects our true professional status, fight for a legally binding Nurse/patient ratio that will give us more staff on the wards and lead to better care for our patients, and fight to give Nursing the true status and recognition it deserves?

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