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Review of future HCA regulation should be priority, says forum


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.


Readers' comments (8)

  • Yes in my opinion there should deffinately be minimum training requirement for HCAs - most HCA's do a fantastic job but training can be hap hazzard at best. These are the people who are doing the front line nursing, lets make sure that we help them to do the very best that they can and improve healthcare across the board.

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  • HCA's should absolutely be regulated. It would give them a little pride and responsibility in their job at the very least.

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  • Steve Williams

    Regulated AND registered - then call them SENs and ... BINGO! Wheel reinvented yet again.

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  • Sorry Steve, SEN training lead to a qualified and registered nurse. For once and for all, it IS NOT THE SAME.

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  • I am an E/N nurse and have been for the last 30 years and I pride myself on keeping myself upto date with the skills I need to do my job effectively and professionly. Over the last 3 months I have been waiting for feedback from management where I am employed as a bank nurse over concerns I had about HCAs feeding residents with swallowing difficulties and incorrect moving and handling techniques. I first of all spoke with the SRNs, if you want to go back to the old title, only to find they knew there was a problem. I took in evidencd based literature to support my concerns but it was a waste of time.Since then because I made waves I found it difficult to carry out my duties as some of the HCAs more or less would not work with me and I got the impression that they viewed me as a glorified carer and I had no right as a trained nurse to question their lack of skills and incompetances even though I was employed as an RN2 and my job description was the same as an RN1. I refused a couple of shifts because the stress was unbearable and I haven't worked since, I haven't resigned and they have no grounds to sack me but as a bank nurse they obviously don't want a troublemaker on duty. If HCAs were regulated they would be accountable for their actions and it would ensure management provided adequate training to carry out their job in a safe and professional manner. I have made the decision of my life. I am giving up nursing because I am fed up of people thinking that E/Ns cannot do their job unless they have SRN status. There are good and bad in all areas of nursing and regardless of status concerns should be listened to and acted upon in a positive way. I questioned unintentional abuse and have now been made to feel like a troublemaker.

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  • I am a HCA, in primary care, and I am extremely busy as a support worker for the clinical staff I have attended recognised PCT training courses for everything I do and have no qualms about refusing to do anything I feel is beyond my role, irregardless of whether I am capable of doing it or not. I think we should be registered as hopefully this would clearly define the role. I do not think that this should then be an excuse to cut back on nurses, the two are different and unfortunately it sometimes seems to be the people who should know better that cannot grasp this. We should be tested on all competencies as problems are arising. Personally I value the experience and support I get from the nursing staff and could not begin to compare myself to them!

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  • Anonymous | 15-Jun-2011 9:43 am I agree, unfortunately not everyone - even those who should know better - thinks like that. The role needs to be clearly defined as well as regulated to stop misuse of the role by management simply to save money. There is a lot of complacency and bad practice amongst HCA's too and this needs to be ironed out. It would not be accepted amongst Staff Nurses, why is it amongst carers?

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  • i work as support staff in a very well known hospital. the HCA there are great and work really hard we should be able to be reconised and registared as so! clearly they should have certain qualifications that should have completed competences that should be examined. there has been a few comments that i have seen about pad practice. although this does happen and shouldnt i see most bad practice coming from registered staff.... just saying

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