Recommendation for Healthcare Assistant Training

An independent report conducted by Journalist Camilla Cavendish has found that there is no minimum standard of training for healthcare assistants before they can work unsupervised.

Ms Cavendish found that HCAs were given no "compulsory or consistent" training, and said some were doing tasks usually performed by doctors or nurses, such as taking blood.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Ms Cavendish suggested that HCAs should have to earn a "Certificate of Fundamental Care" that could link HCA training to nurse training, making it easier for staff to progress up the career ladder, should they wish to. Furthermore, she said that new recruits would need to obtain the certificate and existing HCAs would need to prove they had the equivalent training.

Ms Cavendish said details of the training had not been agreed, but it would include basics such as first aid, infection control and dementia awareness, and would take a "couple of weeks".

Currently, there is no consistent qualification or training for HCAs, with employers deciding for themselves what training is needed.

Peter Carter, of the Royal College of Nursing welcomed the report but had some concerns that without mandatory checks, staff found unsuitable could move between employers unchecked. He said that "The priority must now be to underpin the recommendations made by Camilla Cavendish in the regulatory structure which governs care"

Christina McAnea, of Unison, said that in some hospitals HCA's were treated as "cheap labour" before adding that "Common training standards across health and social care are long overdue and welcome."

The government is expected to provide a formal response to the review in the autumn. It has already promised to establish "minimum training standards" for HCAs by spring 2014.

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