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Over 90% of HCAs back professional register plan


The vast majority of UK healthcare assistants want a professional register to regulate their occupation, a small survey suggests.

As many as 93% support compulsory registration, according to the survey of 385 staff carried out by the British Journal of Healthcare Assistants.

The reform was recommended by the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust Public Inquiry report in February, but dismissed by ministers last month.

Ministers said mandatory regulation for HCAs would introduce too much red tape for the many staff working across the public and private sectors. They also said it would be unfair to ask low-paid assistants to pay annual fees to finance the system.

Instead code of conduct and minimum training levels, similar to the initiative already operating in Scotland, were published by Skills for Health.

But the new online survey of BJHA readers indicates that the money worries are not justified. More than two-thirds (67%) of healthcare assistants drawn from hospitals, the community and care homes said they would be happy to pay an annual registration charge.

The poll also shows HCAs are more worried about staff shortages and the emphasis on targets.

The mandatory regulation of HCAs has long been called for by nursing unions.

Gail Adams, Unison head of nursing, said: “Healthcare assistants have made their strong support for regulation clear yet again. Such is their strength of feeling, they would even be prepared to pay for it out of their own pockets, despite their low wages.

“Regulation would also mean that every healthcare assistant would get a minimum level of training. It is a disgrace that the majority of healthcare support workers, who provide much of the hands on care to patients, say they have had less less than four days of training in the last year.”

Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “This is a welcome and timely survey. Healthcare support workers are a crucial part of health care delivery, and their views are often under-represented.

“The RCN is deeply concerned that registration has been dismissed in the government’s response to the Francis Inquiry, but surely it must now be a priority for the highest standard of patient care.”

Unite head of health Rachael Maskell addeed: “The survey shows what healthcare assistants, who are at the frontline in delivering care, want to happen – statutory regulation to reassure the public on patient safety and to reinforce the status of this vital profession.

“The fact that two-thirds of those surveyed would be prepared to pay a registration fee shows that healthcare assistants are willing to put their money where their mouth is.”

But a Department of Health spokeswoman said such a register would be a “bureaucratic tick-box exercise”.

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Readers' comments (9)

  • michael stone

    One basic question - how much are they happy to pay ?

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  • the dept of health love redtape and tick boxes so I don't understand their objection.

    of course HCAs should be regulated and fully accountable, why shouldn't they - a fear of redtape is no excuse.

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  • Two-thirds of our survey sample of 385 responses (statistically robust, not 'small') said they would be prepared to pay a fee and of that group, 43% said they would pay £50 per annum. Peter Bradley, editor, BJHCA

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  • why should we pay £50 per annum when nuses do more then us? why pay so much to prop up their increses in their fee's come no wonder the nurses are rubbing their hands we dont earn as much as nurses from 21k a year and it wont happen with all the cuts tha is going on?

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  • michael stone

    I'm still ambiguous on this issue. All that I know I would support for sure, are:

    1) A register of people whose past behaviour bans them from working as HCAs;

    2) A 'formal' record of the training and qualifications of each individual HCA, such that these were recognised and transferable. Presumably based on a 'modular' system, where individual HCAs become relatively expert at their own particular job.

    I'm still not sure that a register of every HCA will achieve much.

    Peter Bradley | 11-Apr-2013 12:57 pm

    Thanks for the info, Peter.

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  • A fair registration fee is one thing. It's also unlikely that anything paid by HCAs would equate to any reduction of registered nurses or midwives fees.
    If anything will soon be seen as another revenue earner.

    It's more to do with recognition that registered healthcare workers would have recognized standards, skill + training achieved to do their jobs competently, and are not restricted or barred from working.

    The whole of government, parliament, and civil service is one big bureaucratic machine. Address that and there might be fewer tickboxes to fill.
    Personally I feel that all registration fees should only cover the registration of an individual, not to cover anything else such as competency investigations and fitness to practice. That should be separated and state funded through our taxes, to ensure patients high standards of safety and quality of care.

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  • Nurse Registration; Regular Update and Training Courses, does not automatically 'gaurantee' Nursing Excellence.
    From persnal experience, I have known many qualified and unqualified nurses who have undertaken folios full of the above training courses, only to return back to their places of work, stating, " that was a waste of time", and then carry on thier own methods proceedures, as if they'd never been.
    Yeh! A Good Idea, in theory... but usually only a 'time wasting exercise' for many.
    All at the expense of the tax-payer, and to the detriment of the patients, Sadly.

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  • minimum training standards are great, but don't require registration, the cqc already spot check training records. if crb checks and checking references are inadequate, then maybe a register for those deemed unfit to work as an hca, maybe.

    but just as registered nurses are asked to pay 100 of their hard earned pounds to the nmc we read of an na posing as a nurse in six diferent roles over seven and a half years!

    in fact there are countless instances of nurses bemoaning the nmc on nt comments pages, only to want to impose something similar on hca's! and now it seems hca's are running lemming like toward registration! i despair!!!

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  • I feel this whole issue is very frustrating. Minister hae not got a glue whats going on they get reports done to ingnore them. I think if HCA/ATP wants to be registered they should be able to have a choice. I'd be registered, as I have nothing to hide, and willing to pay for it.

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