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New HCA review will not look at regulation


A review set up by the government to improve care given by healthcare assistants will not consider the issue of regulation, Nursing Times has learnt.

As revealed by this magazine last week, the Times journalist Camilla Cavendish has been asked to chair a review of training and support for HCAs in the wake of the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust public inquiry report.

The inquiry report, which was published earlier this month, made a number of recommendations on HCAs, including that a compulsory registration system should be established.

In an interview with Nursing Times, Ms Cavendish said the government had not asked her to look at the issue of regulation as part of her review. She would instead be focusing on learning more about the HCA workforce and what motivates them.

“I think one of the reasons I have been asked to do this is to try and give a greater voice to this really large workforce,” she said. “Why do people go into these jobs? The system does not know anything like as much about this group as it should do.”

Officially announcing the review, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said it would consider what training and support HCAs need to ensure the “most safe, effective and compassionate” care. It will cover HCAs working in both health and social care settings, and is due to report by the end of May.

Ms Cavendish told Nursing Times she planned to hold focus groups with HCAs around the country to “understand what the challenges they face are” and “what they like about their jobs”. She has already visited some hospitals and care homes, meeting “a lot of HCAs who are the kind of dedicated people you don’t read about”.

Ms Cavendish, who is associate editor of the Times, has written extensively about healthcare issues in recent years. Mr Hunt said: “Camilla Cavendish has a long-standing and strong interest in the quality of care and compassion in health and social care. She will provide a fresh perspective on the key issues of valuing and supporting the staff who provide that care.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman said the review would “build on” work by Skills for Health, the healthcare skills council. Skills for Health recently produced national minimum training standards and a code of conduct for support workers at the government’s request, but the work is yet to be made public. 

The spokeswoman added that the government was considering the issue of HCA regulation separately from the review by Ms Cavendish.

  • Editor’s view p1

Readers' comments (8)

  • Wonder how many of the 290 recommendations will be implemented. The government probably will cherry pick what it likes the sound of. How can a substantial part of the healthcare work force in the hospitals, community, public + private settings, not be regulated up to fit for purpose standards.
    Do they not realise by ignoring it, it isn't going to help raise care standards. Also very topical, how many of these HCAs are looking after people in care homes and we know as older people now live longer and are more likely to get dementia. Thorough training is needed even to care for these people properly. How many of the MPs have taken time to really talk to, help feed/drink, wash + dress people with dementia. If they have, they'll know it can take quite a while even for simple things, now multiply that by how many staff have to look after. Want compassionate care that's not rushed and where patients are valued, start here.

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  • I find this insulting to the patients and relatives at Mid Staffs. What was the point in the Francis Report is the govt have chosen to ignore its recommendations.

    I would like to know how much ms cavendish is being paid for this survey and who is paying for it. This should have been carried out by a recognised health body such as the CQC, if it needed doing at all - isn't it just a fluffed up staff survey - is she seriously going to speak to every HCA in the country.

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  • Why won't they consider regulation?

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  • Typical! Spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on the Francis Report (and many others) and the government decides to dismiss their recommendations and set their own remit - theres a surprise. No wonder this government and the NHS is in such a mess - waste of tax payers money! Yes, how much is Ms Cavendish being paid for yet another review? Why doesnt Cameron speak to us nurses - its free and he would get a much better view of whats wrong with the NHS from the frontline and the people who know! And, what exactly do Skills for Health do? Develop some training and devise National Occupational Standards - however, these are not mandatory. My Trust got rid of their HCA training academy due to costs. Training is the first thing to go in an organisation strapped for cash. Thats the reality of the NHS - starved of proper funding but the government continues to throw money around (probably the £billions 'saved' by the NHS in the last couple of years by cutting staff and frontline services!).

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  • I predicted this reluctance from the govt in a previous post of mine on NT website. I am guessing it comes down to cost.

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 26-Feb-2013 2:15 pm

    I predicted this reluctance from the govt in a previous post of mine on NT website. I am guessing it comes down to cost.


    I am in two minds about this - if HCAs were required to meet 'high standards of competency' then the regulation and training would be expensive. 'Cheap regulation' would, I cynically suspect, be set at such a low standard as to be pretty meaningless.

    But there should be, in my opinion, nationally recognised (but locally certified) 'modular competencies' for HCAs, which would be, once achieved, proof of competence and also an aid to career progression for the HCAs. And I would like some sort of 'struck-off' register, of people whose 'abusive or non-caring attitude' means they should not work as either nurses or as HCAs (not quite sure how to achieve that, though).

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  • The review needs to look at regulation! When will they realise that you sometimes have to pay out to make a change and that change in turn can save money?
    Do they think the Francis report cost nothing??
    The review should also look at the private sector and social sector organisations as well!!
    BTW - Why has this woman been chosen? She has no clinical background although her CV is impressive courtesy of wiki!!

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  • It looks as though many of the Francis recommendations are going to be modified or ignored! Is this whole exercise going to prove totally pointless?

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