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Healthcare Assistants should receive standardised training, says review

Posted on 10/07/2013

An independent review looking at how to improve the training and support of healthcare and care assistants has recommended that there should be a Certificate In Fundamental Care to ensure that standards are consistent.

Currently, there is no minimum standard of care for healthcare assistants (HCAs), even though they are doing jobs that nurses are trained for, such as inserting IV drips and taking blood, despite having no standardised training and being paid considerably less. 

The review was launched back in February, when Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, asked Camilla Cavendish, Associate Editor and columnist at the Sunday Times too look at all aspects of HCAs, their training and development, and public confidence in care standards.

The Cavendish Review found that employers decided what training was needed for their HCAs, but that a universal program would be more beneficial. The review also suggested that there are 1.3 million “frontline staff” who were not registered as nurses, but were responsible for the majority of hands-on care. In light of this, the review suggested that HCAs should be called Nursing Assistants, to more accurately represent their jobs.

Camilla Cavendish said in the review: “Many of us will rely on [care assistants] at some point in our lives, in particular in old age, and we need them to be as good as they can possibly be – especially as some support workers are carrying out procedures which used to be done by nurses, even doctors.

I have seen many examples of excellent and skilled care, but I have been struck by how disconnected the systems are. The airline industry figured out 30 years ago that the most junior staff could be a critical link in the passenger safety chain. 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."

The government is due to respond to the results of the review later in the year.

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