More than 2,500 nurses and healthcare assistants have signed a letter from the Royal College of Nursing to ministers urging them to introduce the mandatory regulation of NHS support staff.
The letter to health minister Earl Howe calls on the government to accept an amendment to the health and social care bill that would ensure mandatory regulation for support workers.
The amendment, tabled by Baroness Emerton, will be debated by Peers in the House of Lords today. It is the latest attempt by the college to exert pressure on ministers over the issue.
At present the bill makes provision for a voluntary register for HCA, but the RCN and other groups, including the Nursing and Midwifery Council and Unison, believes this does not go far enough and that the register should be mandatory.
RCN chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said: “Healthcare support workers play an increasingly important nursing role, carrying out a variety of tasks and it is only right that they are adequately trained and equipped with the skills to do so, through regulation.
“The RCN has consistently stated that mandatory regulation for all nursing staff is vital in ensuring high quality patient services. Anyone who is responsible for delivering care should be regulated and accountable for their actions,” he said. “Healthcare support workers want to be able to provide their patients with the best possible care, so by bringing in a framework of minimum standards and training requirements, facilitated through regulation, they will be in a better position to do this.
“The government has a duty of care to patients and we call upon them to accept this amendment as we do not believe that voluntary registration will protect patient safety adequately,” he added.