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Amount of unregulated workers in hospitals 'a disgrace' says Carter


Chief Executive Peter Carter has highlighted concerns about the NHS employing an increasing number of unregulated healthcare assistants, who help nurses with duties such as feeding.

In an interview with The Times, chief executive Peter Carter said the amount of untrained workers had grown “exponentially” over the last 10 years and many were performing tasks without formal training, thereby putting patients at risk.

Mr Carter said: “What we have on hospital wards, and particularly in domiciliary care and care homes, is an unregulated, untrained workforce who are picking up so much of this on the job as they go along. Frankly, it’s nothing short of a disgrace.

“We require regulation and training in just about every other walk of life. Gas fitters have to be registered; but somehow when it comes to patient care we’ve got this unregulated, untrained workforce and then people wonder from time to time why there are problems.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “The government intends to establish the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (currently the CHRE) as the national accrediting body for a system of assured voluntary registers for groups that are currently not subject to statutory professional regulation, which includes healthcare assistants.”

Carter added that many newly trained nurses are “simply not up to the mark” having not spend enough time on hospital wards.

In an interview with The Times, chief executive Peter Carter said new nurses had spent too much time in classrooms rather than gaining practical experience.


Readers' comments (20)

  • Peter Carter is it now? Well, Peter I’ll tell you what is disgraceful, the fact that you are more concerned about regulating Auxiliaries than you are about your paid-up members being stitched up over their pensions and pay. Regulating Auxiliaries isn’t an urgent problem, whereas our pensions are. Stop fannying about and sitting on the fence and actually do what I believe the vast majority of your membership want and stand up and be counted and tell the government nurses aren’t prepared to put up with this anymore!

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  • I agree wholeheartheadly with this article. Nursing assistants with no experience and/or formal training are a real danger to patients' physical, emotional and mental health. I also believe patients' themselves would be horrified to think any tom dick or harry off the street were caring for them and assisting them in their most personal care. Furthermore the trained staff working alongside these assistants are taking full responsibility for their actions under their own competencies(see your code of professional conduct) I believe you will not be so keen to work with untrained assistants realising this and the real damage they can do to patients. I further believe NHS managers will employ these people and not train them in a bid to save money aware that any harm they do will be down to the registered nurse they are working under. This must be stopped immediately

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  • I agree with Peter Carter. There are many, many excellent Auxiliaries, but there are also many with minimal training. Unfortunately the public only see a uniform and a uniform means a nurse so the lack of training of auxiliaries reflects on the whole of the nursing profession.
    This lack of training is not just hospitals but GP practices.
    I have a close friend who has no healthcare experience whatsoever. She was employed as a receptionist by a GP. Within a very few months she had been trained to take venous blood samples from patients. Words fail me on this one, I find the situation too appalling. And of course when she dons her uniform the public thinks she is a nurse. surely there should be some control.

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  • Peter Carter isn't wrong on this, I actually agree the way many trusts/workplaces are starting to use untrained and unregulated staff to do clinical tasks just to save money is bloody disgraceful. But I agree with the first poster too. Until he starts supporting and ACTING on strike action like the majority of his paid up members (the ones who haven't already left in disgust) really want, to fight against issues that are REALLY important to us, then he should shut the hell up on everything else. This man and his pathetic press releases without any action to back them up are becoming increasingly irrelevant.

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  • Further to my earlier post (first one) on this story, I do think that the role of Auxiliaries and Support Workers etc. needs sorting out, but just not at this moment in time. Carter’s RCN and the rest have had literally had 50 years to sort this out, but they’ve not bother so why now? it’s a distraction from the main issue isn’t it: pensions being devalued, end of national AFC terms and privatisation. These are the things that I want to hear Carter talking about! I worry just as much as the next person about unqualified staff and what they’re allowed to do, but first things first get the pensions and pay sorted out!

    I welcome the creation of this new Standards Authority, but I have no idea how they're going to regulate HCA's, as others have mentioned, there's such a wide variance in qualifications and experience, I think all we'll end up with is a list of names and nothing more!

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  • How about the fact that CQC Will recognise an NVQ Level 4 as a registered manager of a residential home but insist on a trained nurse acquiring this NVQ on top of their professional status as a requisite for care home management?
    I have now employed several NVQ 4 RMA qualified "managers" none of whom was acapable of the role.
    Their standard of practise/knowledge is massiely below that of a trained nurse.
    Legally too, there is no comparison.
    I raised this issue with the NMC only to beadvised " not our business"
    Nursing devalued yet again.

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  • Corey George

    I totally agree with the above article, student nurses are spending to much time in the classroom and it is affecting patient care outcomes. The untrained auxillary staff was hired by someone, did they not review their qualifications, or do they consider nursing care as a street job, so the hire anyone.

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  • One GP I worked for thought he'd employ a HCA as his practice nurse. He even thought she was a nurse, and asked her to do home visits!

    I think employers need training in skills mix.

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  • I think Peter Carter is quite right to bring this issue to the fore. It is not something to put on the back burner until pensions are sorted - on the contrary it goes hand in hand with pay and pensions. Ever since agenda for change which increased pay and the grade for many nurses the agenda has been to make the registered nurse a manager of many 'unregistered nurses'. Regardless of how people are trained or registered surely what we want is for fair pay for 'nursing' and with that fair pay comes the need for training and registration in other words a registered nurse.

    Of course students don't spend enough time on the wards - they spend up to 24 weeks with district nurses and yet we are not allowed to train them in basic DN care like male catheterisation and compression or even venepuncture [as mentioned above this is a 'task any unregulated person can undertake] and so they complete their training unable to take up a position in community without extensive further training. I have recently read many applications for a community post from student nurses and they all talk about managing rather than about doing. This is hardly surprising - that is the plan for trained nurses. it is no use sorting our pensions if most of us will be made redundant as we move at breakneck speed towards the model of one registered nurse per team of HCA's.

    Nurses are as much to blame as anyone - we are only too keen to pass 'tasks' on to HCA's instead of defending the role of the registered nurse.

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  • Andromeda


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