Health care assistants 'must be registered' say MPs

Members of the Health Select Committee are calling for compulsory registration of HCAs, just like there is for nurses and midwives. The Government is against the idea, saying it would be too expensive. It proposes voluntary registration instead.

Dr Sarah Wollaston, a Conservative member of the committee, said: "We felt that the best way of giving the public the assurance they need about the quality and level of training of HCAs was to have [compulsory] registration."

She said the matter was thrown into sharp relief by "several high profile cases" of poor patient care, involving both nurses and HCAs.

One such case was the scandal at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, where elderly patients had to drink water from flower vases because they were not properly attended to.

Dr Wollaston, a former GP, warned: "At the moment you can work as an HCA in a hospital with relatively little guaranteed education or training.

"But more importantly, if there are concerns about your practice and you are dismissed from your post there's nothing to stop you working elsewhere."

The Royal College of Nursing has consistently called for compulsory registration of HCAs.

Stephen Dorrell MP, the Conservative chair, said the committee was not calling for immediate compulsory registration of HCAs, because there were currently "significant issues" at the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which registers the two professions.

Their concerns are outlined in a report, Education, training and workforce planning, published today.

The report also raised worries that junior doctors were failing to garner enough experience, because of limits to working hours due in large part to the European Working Time Directive.

The Government has come up with a strategy to reform the whole system of training the healthcare workforce, which costs £5 billion a year. The new system is due to become operational next April.

However, the committee found these plans were "unclear and lack crucial detail".

Mr Dorrell said: "We are concerned about this apparent lack of urgency and we believe that failure to address these issues will lead to risk for patients and confusion for staff."


Sourced from The Telegraph, 23rd May 2012.