NHS Employers has written to the Department of Health calling on it to reject some of the key recommendations in the Francis report relating to nursing.
The organisation, which represents trusts, sent a letter to the DH yesterday responding to Robert Francis QC’s Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust Public Inquiry report.
In the letter, NHS Employers argued against the mandatory regulation of healthcare assistants, claiming it was “not an appropriate or proportionate action”. It also warned that minimum training standards for HCAs could become a “tick-box” exercise.
In addition, the letter expressed concern at the prospect of creating a specific older people’s nurse specialist role, arguing that most NHS staff worked with older people rather than a subset.
“We know the changing demographics of the population and we have examples from employers where the youngest person on a hospital ward is 92 years old,” it stated. “We need to be clear that, for most people, working within the health service means working with older people.”
The letter – seen by Nursing Times – was sent to Gavin Larner, the DH director of professional standards, who is leading the team behind the government’s response to the Francis report.
Its contents summarises the views expressed by 180 HR directors and senior HR professionals at six listening workshops from 15-26 February.
However, NHS Employers appeared to accept the arguments for aptitude tests for healthcare students to ensure they had the right values and behaviours.
The letter said: “Funding pre-registration education (fees and bursary), when other non-healthcare courses are paid for by students, appeared to be creating a perverse incentive and driving some people’s behaviour to enter healthcare training courses without the intent to forge a career in healthcare.
“Employers want to be assured that we are properly testing intentions, as well as attributes and fundamental academic abilities, before accepting students onto courses.”
The letter also backed calls for a change in culture around raising concerns and lent support to making ward mangers supernumerary.
“[There is] still an over-riding feeling of needing to be brave to raise concerns for fear of reprisal, despite much good work in this area. Driving a more open and transparent discussion at board, through to ward level, will start to change this,” it stated.
“There was some support for creating ward manager posts, outside of the established numbers,” it added. “For those who had done it, they confirmed it created an initial significant cost pressure but that it helped to provide the oversight and vigilance needed to address events and issues as they happen.
“In the medium to longer term the gains from the initial investment are both financial and better outcomes and experience for patients.”
The government is expected to formally respond next week to Mr Francis’ report, which included 290 recommendations.
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