New NHS fears as untrained healthcare staff are revealed to be carrying out medical procedures
Many healthcare assistants (HCA’s) are carrying out medical procedures without adequate training, a recent inquiry has found.
Journalist Camilla Cavendish was commissioned by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to carry out a review on NHS hospitals following the Francis Inquiry into the Staffordshire Hospital scandal earlier this year.
Her findings have revealed that of the 300,000 healthcare assistants in the UK, many are taking blood, inserting IV drips and plastering, something that only registered nurses should be doing. It was also found that hospital and community HCA’s often receive very little or no training before their first day of work.
In the report, Cavendish wrote: “The review has also heard from home care workers whose ‘induction’ consisted of being handed a DVD to watch at home, before going out to a client.”
The lack of HCA training has also been highlighted this year after a similar report from the Royal College of Nursing was published, finding that the majority of healthcare assistants only receive one hour’s training before working in the wards.
Cavendish did acknowledge that there were “pockets of excellence” in parts of the NHS where comprehensive training was delivered to HCA’s after which they were monitored over a lengthy probation period. However, the report did conclude that “overall, training is neither sufficiently consistent, nor sufficiently well supervised, to guarantee the safety of all patients and users in health and social care”.
Her recommendations outlined in the report included abolishing the “60 different titles for healthcare assistants” and putting them all under the umbrella title “nursing assistant” with a compulsory certificate of fundamental care needed before employment, as well as clear job descriptions and accountability.
The report stated: “Many of us will rely on healthcare 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.”
Jeremy Hunt welcomed the report, though did not comment on its implementation. The Department of Health is due to deliver a formal response to the review in autumn.