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Training and recruitment of healthcare assistants in practices to be reviewed

The Government has announced an independent review into the recruitment and training of healthcare assistants, including those employed in GP practices.

The review - led by Times journalist Camilla Cavendish - will look at how to ‘raise training standards’ and ensure HCAs have the relevant support, development and feedback to provide ‘compassionate and competent care’.

The review was prompted by the Francis Inquiry into high death rates at Mid Stafforshire NHS Foundation Trust.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘We want everyone receiving treatment and support across the health and care sector to get the safest, most effective and most compassionate care.

‘So we need to make sure that the staff tasked with carrying out some of the most personal and fundamental jobs have the skills, values and behaviours needed to provide this.’

Ms Cavendish said: ‘There are more care assistants than nurses in this country. Many of us will rely on them in old age, and we need them to be as good as they can possibly be.’

She will report back to the Government at the end of May.

Readers' comments (6)

  • Successive governments have deprofessionalized doctors and got the nurses to take on the tasks done by the doctors.

    Successive governments have deprofessionalized nurses and got the HCA to take on the tasks done by the nurses.

    Why? Because it's cheaper. We shuldn't be surprised standards have dropped. Now the government wants better training - presumably at our cost to clean up their mess.

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  • All staff groups should receive standardised training that meets the specific needs of the job as well as addresses the underlying principles involved in working in health with vulnerable people. Not only are HCAs not working to nationally agreed standards but practice nurses and nurse practitioners are not required to either.
    Until employers are penalised for not requiring or releasing staff for the correct training and until funding is made available to meet these needs then status quo.

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  • Training should be mandatory but you also need experience and common sense (is that allowed these days?) My HCA thinks she knows lots and beleives the first thing she reads. The nurse has 37 years experience a degree and common sense. I know who I want to look after me. Not all HCAs are equal and not all nurses are equal to quote Animal Farm!!

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  • HCA Training has been closely associated with National Vocational Standards, which provides a reliable standard plus assessment guidelines. HCA training came about as there was a 20% reduction in workforce due to Project 2000 and withdraw of student nurses from service to an academic standing. In some areas , wages and salaries were examined with particular observation of enhanced payments. However this was 20 years ago and the dynamics of staffing a ward or community have radically changed ie the skill mix. It is also a concern that HCAs are assessing trainee HCA with a watering down of skill, attitude and knowledge. The HCA is a trained individual but only in what they have been trained to do. The SRN now the RN has a broad general educated and trained perspective BUT there are not enough within the skill mix; things will get worse.

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  • We are going to cut 20 billion from the health budget. [with an ageing population and more morbidity] We want the finest compassionate care with no resources.It is all the doctors' or nurses' fault that this does not happen with no beds, no equipment and no personnel. Until we get basic arithmetic into the health service - how many patients per doctor/ nurse- we will spend millions on inquiries which would have been better spent on patient care. The NHS never had that - it relied on doctors doing 120 hours + a week to survive - and if anything went wrong - the doctors were lazy and did not work/ care enough.

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  • HCAs are valuable members of a skillmix team, freeing up the time of qualified staff to concentrate on chronic disease management and anything else the government throws at General Practice. It's disappointing that the lessons learned from Winterborne Stoke and now mid-Staffs are taking so long to result in appropriate action. HCAs should be regulated appropriately and hold a nationally recognized qualification.

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