A new body due to be set up to oversee the education of health professionals should undertake an urgent review of healthcare assistant regulation, the government’s Future Forum has recommended.
The Future Forum, which comprises around 40 representatives from healthcare professions, was tasked with drawing up a series of recommendations to improve the government’s Health Bill, following widespread criticism that the concerns of clinicians about the legislation had not been adequately addressed.
Today it published a series of reports detailing 16 recommendations on amendments to the bill.
Under the government’s reform plans, a special health authority called Health Education England is set to be created which will oversee education and training across all clinical professions, including nurses.
In its report on education and training, the forum called on the government to accelerate the setting up of Health Education England.
The report stated: “It needs to be operational as soon as possible to provide focus and leadership while the rest of the education and training architecture is put into place.”
In particular, the forum said it was aware of “concerns that some key workers, such as healthcare assistants, who had a great deal of direct patient contact, were not registered or regulated other than through their contract of employment and there was no minimum standard of education and training for the role”.
The report states: “It is suggested that HEE, in conjunction with employers and the national regulators, undertake a review of roles and regulation and recommends the way forward.”
The forum’s concerns have reignited the long-standing debate over the regulation of HCAs.
The Department of Health recently appeared to have shelved tackling the issue when it ruled against the need for statutory HCA regulation in its response to the Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery in April.
The Commission had said the issue needed to be addressed, adding to earlier comments made by Nursing and Midwifery Council chief executive and registrar Dickon Weir-Hughes.
In an interview in January 2010 he told Nursing Times he was “single minded” about ensuring healthcare assistants were regulated nationally.
The government is due to publish its initial response to Future Forum’s report tomorrow, which will set out an agreement between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats on future health policy.
A more details response is expected to be published next Monday.