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Unison HCA conference: Regulation detail due next year

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Proposals for a regulatory system for HCAs are expected to be published in the new year, delegates heard last week at a Unison conference in London.

The Department of Health’s Extending Professional Regulation Working Group is preparing a report, which follows on from the regulation white paper, Trust, Assurance and Safety, published last year.

This will pave the way for proposals and a consultation early next year on this regulatory framework, said Nick Clarke, the DH’s head of health regulatory bodies.

A separate report is also due in October detailing an evaluation of three pilot schemes in Scotland. As NT has previously reported, these are looking at an employer-led regulatory framework for HCAs.

‘HCAs should be regulated, whether it is employer-led or by a separate regulatory agency,’ said Mr Clarke.

‘We have asked [the working group] to produce a report by the end of the year with recommendations. At the heart of it we have asked them to make regulation of healthcare assistants proportional and risk-based,’ he added.

According to NMC council members, speaking at their last meeting, there is widespread support for a ‘mixed’ or ‘hybrid’ model of regulation for HCAs, which could include both statutory regulation and employers.

RCN head of policy Howard Catton has also suggested that employers should regulate bands 1–2 and the NMC regulate bands 3–4.

But Unison is against this. Gail Adams, Unison’s head of nursing, said: ‘We believe that employers have a critical role to play – but [employer-led regulation] would allow them to hire,
fire and prevent people from working.’

Mark Searle, chief executive of the Health Professionals Council, told conference delegates he favoured a scheme that would cost £38 a year per person to administer – half that of the fee levied on registered nurses.

This would be covered by the allowance created in last year’s nurse pay deal for England which provides £38 a year towards a health professional’s registration fee. ‘It strikes me if we are looking for a framework it should cost £38 – that cost would be reimbursed by the allowance,’ he said.

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