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Unions split on how to regulate HCAs

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The two major nursing unions are split over how to best regulate healthcare assistants.

Unison favours regulation by the Health Professions Council but the RCN favours regulation by the NMC, delegates heard last week at an NT conference in London on advancing the role of healthcare support workers.

Howard Catton, RCN head of policy, said the NMC was the most appropriate regulator for healthcare support workers.

‘They are part of the nursing family,’ he said. ‘There has been a significant extension in terms of their responsibilities.’

But Gail Adams, Unison’s head of nursing, said the Health Professions Council was the most appropriate body as HCAs worked with many different professions. ‘They don’t just work with nurses,’ she said.

Meanwhile, an employer-led model for HCA regulation is being piloted in Scotland. The three participating health boards are due to announce the findings of their pilots in October.

Mr Catton added that assistant practitioners should be regulated first, in order to start the regulation process.

He added his personal view was that there might be a two-tier model where employers regulate Agenda for Change bands one and two and the NMC regulate bands three and four, including assistant practitioners.

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