childhospitalThe vast majority healthcare assistants in the UK want to see tougher regulation of the profession, according to a British Journal of Healthcare Assistants survey.

Their poll of 385 staff found 93% backed compulsory registration, with many prepared to pay for it. Such a move was recommended in England by the Francis Report, but rejected by ministers last month.

Crucial opportunity to regulate HCAs
Reacting to the government's Francis response, Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives said that the Government  "missed a crucial opportunity by not introducing the registration and regulation of support workers (HCAs)".

Compulsory registration would ensure healthcare assistants are formally acknowledged as 'fit to work', just as nurses have to be.

Burdensomely bureaucratic regulation
However the government believe registering the thousands of healthcare assistants working in the NHS and private sector to do basic tasks such as feeding and washing patients would be too "burdensomely bureaucratic".

Ministers also said it would be unfair to ask lowly paid staff to pay annual fees to support the system.

HCA code of conduct
Instead they proposed a code of conduct and minimum training standards, similar to the scheme that has already been introduced in Scotland.

But this online poll suggests their concerns are largely justified:
- 67% of healthcare assistants drawn from hospitals, the community and care homes said they would be willing to pay an annual fee for registration.
- More than three-quarters of healthcare assistants are more concerned about staff shortages and the focus on targets

Minumum level of training
Gail Adams, of HCA representing union Unison, said the "strength of feeling" on the issue was clear.

"Regulation would also mean that every healthcare assistant would get a minimum level of training," she added.

But a Department of Health spokeswoman re-iterated the government's position, describing a register as a "bureaucratic tick-box exercise" despite the findings.

Posted 11/04/2013 by richard.hook@pavpub.com