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Rise in HCAs ahead in wake of cash cuts

  • 22 Comments

A major expansion in assistant practitioner numbers and roles will be needed over the next decade to cope with the squeeze on NHS finances, the national body that monitors healthcare skills has predicted.

The forecast, from Skills for Health, comes after the Health and Social Care Bill was seen to have signalled the government’s intention not to introduce formal regulation of healthcare assistants in favour of a voluntary register.

Skills for Health’s annual analysis of the healthcare workforce in the NHS, independent and voluntary sectors concluded that development of roles at levels 3 to 4 of the NHS career framework – roughly equivalent to pay bands 3 and 4 – would allow employers to “meet the increasing demand for health provision within tightening budgets” over the next 10 years.

The report also said there would be an increased need for advanced practitioners, at the equivalent of band 7, and that training resources would need to be “re-targeted” to allow staff to develop skills “outside their traditional boundary”.

Royal College of Nursing director of policy development Howard Catton said that the college supported the training and development of band 3 and 4 staff. However, he warned that the impact of any significant change in skill mix must be carefully assessed.

“My concern is whether, in the current economic climate, this will result in crude substitution driven by cost pressures and the need to produce savings that in the long run could have a detrimental effect on the standard of patient care,” 
he said.

  • 22 Comments

Readers' comments (22)

  • A friend of mine told me that she had the misfortune, recently, of having to attend a meeting in which the upper echelons “were comfortable” with proposals for Band 5 and, in some cases Band 6 Staff Nurses being replaced by Band 2 or 3 HCA’s or - if the identified post required drug administration e.g. X-Ray, Medical Physics, wards and other departments - Band 3/4 Pharmacy Technicians!

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  • Why are they bothering to train nurses if this is the case? My daughter qualifies in the summer and is not even sure she will get a job. This country pays a fortune to train nurses! And what for? Just to end up on the dole queue? Sorry but HCA's do not have the same level of knowledge that it takes a Registered Nurse over 3 years full time to obtain. Its just a way to get cheap labour.. and to all those HCA's who want this, I say to them that you are just being used! If you do this you will make it worse for everyone. Fight with the rest of us for decent pay and treatment and if you want that level of responsibility go and earn it by doing the correct training.

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  • At the end of the day it is up to the individual whether they want to improve their skills and knowledge. I have been at university for two years now training for the assistant practitioner role and in april 2011 I will qualify, I have worked really hard for this degree and am looking forward to working alongside the multidisciplinary team.

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  • Why are people so against us.

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  • In your title it says assistant. Well management in some areas intend for a replacement of trained nursing staff rather than having you assist them. Thats why people are getting so upset.

    They are trying to replace nurses with cheaper models.

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  • Assistant Practitioners hold a Foundation Degree which is equivalent to the foundation year of current nurse training. Sorry Tina but it is not a degree.
    Would we allow nurses with only one years university experience to act in the capacity of a band 5 staff nurse? I hope not, yet this is what is happening in some areas.
    Many APs I work alongside feel exploited enough as it is at times.

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  • Oh dear!!! Time to retire; if only I could. Of course the registered nurse is still going to be blamed for any mistakes the HCA's or assistant practitioners make. We are still expected to countersign their documentation.

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  • So what is the next step. Advanced practitioners replacing the specialist nurse, at band 4/5, instead of an RN at 6/7, or even become a band 5, instead of band 7 RN, ward manager. This is our future as a career and what to expect as a patient, can't wait, I don't think so, I hope not!

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  • Anonymous | 8-Feb-2011 3:01 pm

    Just to clarify your point: a foundation degree is academically equivalently to a diploma, this is most likely because nursing is no longer diploma but degree level. A foundation degree is often run over three years, but the NHS seems to be pushing them through faster at 2 years.

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  • So if a Foundation degree is equivalent to a Diploma then these Assistant practitioners will have the same qualification as all of our trained nurses that don't have a degree. Why is that a problem?

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