Report calls for Healthcare assistants to become Nursing Assistants

As a Solicitor dealing with claims for injuries sustained in nursing and care homes I support the Cavendish Review’s call for standard training for health care assistants.

They carry out vital work, for which they are often untrained. Many people are not even aware which staff on the ward are nurses and which health care assistants. They might be shocked to understand just how much high level health care work is carried out by health care assistants.

Healthcare assistants provide vital support

Health care assistants (HCAs) provide basic care in hospitals, care homes and at home. However, many are called upon to provide more than basic care, with some HCAs having to do tasks usually performed by doctors or nurses, such as taking blood for which they are untrained.

There is no minimum, consistent training standard for healthcare assistants before they can work unsupervised. Currently employers decide what training is needed.

There are more than 1.3 million frontline staff who are not registered nurses. Nursing assistants provide some of the most personal and fundamental care such as turning people in bed so they do not get pressure sores, helping people to eat and wash and to get out of bed and get dressed.

 Frontline staff to become Nursing Assistants with adequate training

The review calls for a new Certificate of Fundamental Care for HCAs. It says the quality of training and support that care workers receive in the NHS and social care system varies between organisations and is inadequate in some cases. The new certificate will link HCA training to nurse training. All new recruits would need to have the qualification and current HCAs would need to demonstrate they had equivalent training. In recognition of the important work HCAs do, the report says, they should be called Nursing Assistants.

Camilla Cavendish the report’s author wrote “Patient safety in the NHS and social care depends on recognising the contribution of support workers, valuing and training them as part of a team. For people to get the best care, there must be less complexity and duplication and a greater focus on ensuring that support staff are treated with the seriousness they deserve – for some of them are the most caring of all.”

Government to respond in Autumn

The Cavendish Review was initiated by the Government after the Stafford Hospital scandal. It looked at how healthcare assistants fit into the current care provision landscape. The government will make a formal response to the review this autumn. It has already promised to establish “minimum training standards” for HCAs by spring 2014. Let us hope they are serious in their intent.