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Independent review recommends basic training for Healthcare Assistants

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An independent review, written by journalist and health campaigner Camilla Cavendish, makes several recommendations for the training and regulation of Healthcare Assistants (HCAs). The review was instigated following the Francis inquiry into the failings at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

The inquiry recommended a registration system for healthcare workers, however, the Healthcare Secretary Jeremy Hunt declined to introduce a system of registration and instead commissioned the review. This is despite HCAs desiring a professional register and more regulation as reported by the BBC in April 2013.

HCAs are reported to number over 1.3 million and are responsible for delivering some of the most basic levels of care in hospitals, care homes and people’s own homes. The review found that there is no minimum standard of training for staff who provide fundamental care and, in some areas, untrained HCAs are performing tasks that should only be undertaken by qualified doctors or nurses such as taking blood and inserting intravenous drips. The report also found that some social care support workers are sent to care unsupervised into people’s homes with little or no training.

Of the 18 recommendations, the review advocates that all HCAs should undergo basic training and must obtain a standard of ‘certificate of fundamental care’ before being able to provide unsupervised care. In addition, the report proposes that a code of conduct is introduced to improve accountability for performance. The proposals aim to promote the standard of care to patients in all types of settings to the highest level.

The recommendations are welcomed by Jeremy Hunt, however, there are no government plans to introduce compulsory basic training. A full government response is expected later in the year.

The full report ‘The Cavendish review: an independent review into healthcare assistants and support workers in the NHS and social care settings’ can be read here.

By Alex Gill