Learn from UK’s mistakes?

1 May 2014

In the wake of the Francis Inquiry into Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust, and reports of failings in other hospitals and care homes, the UK Government asked Times journalist Camilla Cavendish to review what can be done to “ensure that unregistered staff in the NHS and social care treat all patients and clients with care and compassion”.

The resulting Cavendish Review was published last year and found HCAs

  • Made up around a third of the caring workforce in NHS hospitals
  • Spent more time than nurses at the bedside
  • Have no compulsory or consistent training
  • A profusion of job titles.

“Some HCAs are now doing jobs that used to be the preserve of nurses, even doctors,” writes Cavendish.

“The review met a group of health care assistants from a busy A&E who are inserting IV drips, taking blood, and plastering. Yet they are paid at three levels below a newly qualified nurse.”

The review recommendations included:

  • Directors of nursing take full responsibility for recruiting, training, and managing HCAs.
  • Develop a ‘certificate of fundamental care’ linked to nursing degree.
  • Make caring experience a prerequisite to starting a nursing degree.
  • HCAs and nursing students complete the certificate together.
  • HCAs able to use the title ‘nursing assistant’ on completion of certificate.
  • Development of bridging programmes and career framework for HCAs.
  • Provide employers advice on managing dismissal of unsatisfactory staff.
  • Skills for Health body to refine its proposed code of conduct for staff.

NB see also main article: The health care assistant debate