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Where is this 'secret army' of healthcare assistants?

From Clare Farr, chair, Western Cheshire Practice Managers Group

From Clare Farr, chair, Western Cheshire Practice Managers Group

I am writing in response to your article entitled 'Army of GP nurses and receptionists to run CVD screening'.

Within it there is also a reference to healthcare assistants.This prompts me to ask: 'Is this a secret army?'In our area one cannot recruit a healthcare assistant for love nor money.

Three practices here have just spent £850 on advertising for a healthcare assistant as a joint venture, hoping this would prove more successful as a job share than it had when offered on an individual practice basis.

Only four applications were received – one from a phlebotomist and the others from social care workers.I would be most interested to know if other parts of the country are experiencing the same problems, or if there are training programmes (NVQ or otherwise) in place and running.

Our local PCT ditched its training programme for new and would-be healthcare assistants a couple of years back, presumably for monetary reasons, so has been unable to help us with this.

We have been led to believe over the past few years that having a healthcare assistant is the way to go, but they are really becoming as rare as hen's teeth now.

I guess it is a gap that will need to be filled at GP cost, but I don't think it makes sense for separate practices to train their own would-be healthcare assistant on an individual basis.Is this a role that is likely to be taken up by consortiums?

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