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Lansley unveils plan for voluntary registration of HCAs


Health secretary Andrew Lansley has officially announced plans for a voluntary register, code of conduct, and basic training standards for healthcare assistants.

The plans, revealed on Monday by and confirmed today by Mr Lansley, have already been criticised by academics and the Royal College of Nursing as being too weak to improve patient safety.  

The government’s announcement is a response to growing calls for the introduction of tighter standards and regulation for HCAs in the wake of a number of critical reports on nursing care over the last 12 months.

Speaking at the NHS Employers conference in Liverpool today, Mr Lansley said the code of conduct and training standards would focus on areas including communication, confidentiality, nutrition and hydration, and basic observation.

He added that the code would also assist registered nurses in knowing which tasks they could delegate to HCAs safely, and clarify when HCAs would need further training to deliver more advanced tasks.

Mr Lansley said the project to develop a code of conduct and minimum training standards for HCAs would be taken forward jointly by Skills for Health and Skills for Care – the agencies that represent employers on training issues – in partnership with unions, employers, regulators and educators.

The skills councils have been told to present their recommendations to the government by September next year. Their findings will be used to establish a voluntary register for healthcare support workers and adult social care workers in 2013.

Rejecting calls for mandatory HCA regulation, Mr Lansley said: “Good local supervision offers support everyday. Distant national regulation can often only react after the event.

“Employers must always take responsibility and be accountable for the staff they employ. But, we recognise that more can be done to support employers in this and a code of conduct and clear minimum training standards will provide important clarity in this area,” he said.

“These measures will help employers to better consider the skills profile of potential employees and ensure that patients and service users get the care and support they need.”

Unison head of nursing Gail Adams said the announcement was a “welcome step in the right direction”.

She said: “Healthcare assistants’ access and right to training and development can be patchy, and their job roles and responsibilities can be unclear. Bringing some consistency will help support the entire health team to give patients the best possible care.”

The planned voluntary register for HCAs would be accredited by the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence, which is set to be renamed the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care under the government’s reforms.


Readers' comments (32)

  • Not having a register at all I can understand (but not agree with) and having registration I can understand... However this to me seems a total waste of money that involves more government body renaming and reshuffling - is this wise in this economic climate Mr Lansley??

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  • What is the point in half measures? Either do it or don't!

    My god this man is a fool!

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  • so where do the AP's fit in here??? because all i hear is HCA's we are NO LONGER HCA's!!!!!

    The sooner people resolve their ignorance and accept this life will be so much easier ..they had not trouble accepting the SEN's ..we are of the same caliber (I was one so don't try to teach me otherwise) in fact It would just be a damm sight easier to just bring back the roll and just rename the Assistant Practitioner's Sate Enrolled Nurses !!!!!! we are nurses in our own right ..we have done a 2 year foundation degree foir god sake what do people want our blood??

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  • Apologies for my typo's in the previous statement oh and by the way I did not wish to remain anonymous ...i just get so up tight it is a constant fight all the time trying to prove this band can work ...

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  • Anonymous | 16-Nov-2011 4:43 pm

    so where do the AP's fit in here???

    What are APs? Do we need them? Or are they just another cheap replacement for RNs?

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  • Well that totally depends on how much you value their role my area the RGN's are happy to have us as we are able to relieve them of some of their work load to be able to attend to other things...However from your remark it is clear that you don't agree with the role the AP's ...If you think they are a cheap replacement for the RGN then maybe you should talk to your ward manager or modern matron and see what they say on the matter !!! Its a shame people feel threatened by the role when the intention is to assist not to replace ..

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  • patricia yorke | 16-Nov-2011 7:06 pm
    and 16-Nov-2011 4:43 pm

    Bull!! The role of enrolled nurses was phased out years ago. What's the point of bringing it back (under some other guise) other than to decrease the number of qualified nurses within the staff skill mix?! i.e. Cheap alternative. That has a direct impact on patient care. The fewer qualified nurses in a ward/unit, etc, the poorer the level of care. Fact. The most important word here is ASSISTANT and you are the one feeling threatened and defensive. Anyway, the article is about HCA regulation specifically and does not mention APs, so all your knicker-twisting is pointless and irrelevant.
    As for "we have done a 2 year foundation degree foir god sake what do people want our blood??" Just go and complete your nurse training and have a chip-ectomy performed on your shoulder, for God's sake.

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  • ai would like to know what would it mean for HCA to become registered, what would we be called?

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  • Anonymous 10:47pm Would you not still be called Health Care Assistants? Why would regulation change your job title?

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  • patricia yorke | 16-Nov-2011 4:46 pm

    Why are you working as an AP when you are a Registered Nurse?

    Enrolled Nurses did not 'have to be accepted', they were registered with the GMC, later UKCC, on the same register (part2) as SRN/RGNs (part1). They had more responsibility than the current
    A(H)Ps. For example: in charge of shifts and drug rounds. So A(H)P are not the new guise of the SEN. Although SEN training no longer exists, there are staff employed who haven't converted to RGN/RN. In ou Trust they are employed at Band 5. They are Trained Nurses.

    Anyway, back to the article. How on earth can you have a voluntary registration, and enforce a code of conduct and minimun training standards. It will probably become a 2-tiered system, whereby 'registered' HCAs are employed in preference to non-registered, or at a different grade. Another fear is that why any HCA would opt not to be registered? Sounds like a half-brained idea.

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