Press release

Scheme to support healthcare assistants unveiled

New measures to support the training standards of healthcare assistants were unveiled by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley today

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


New measures to support the training standards of healthcare assistants were unveiled by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley today.

Speaking at the NHS Employers conference in Liverpool, he set out plans to develop a code of conduct and minimum training standards for healthcare support workers and adult social care workers in England.

The project will be taken forward jointly by Skills for Health and Skills for Care - in partnership with unions, employers, regulators, educators and others  It will focus on areas like communication, confidentiality, nutrition and hydration, and basic observations,

It will help nurses know which tasks they can delegate and which they shouldn’t.  And it will bring clarity to the training assistants need where they deliver more advanced tasks. 

Skills for Health and Skills for Care will present their recommendations to the Department by September next year.  The findings will be used to during 2013 to establish a voluntary register(s) for healthcare support workers and adult social care workers in England as part of its standards for inclusion on a register.  

Andrew Lansley said:

“Every day in England, hundreds of thousands of healthcare assistants aim to give the very highest quality of care to patients. The job they do can be rewarding but it can often be demanding too. It is essential they are supported to deliver the best care possible.

 ”Good local supervision offers support everyday. Distant national regulation can often only react after the event.

Employers must always take responsibility and be accountable for the staff they employ. But , we recognise that more can be done to support employers in this and a code of conduct and clear minimum training standards will provide important clarity in this area.

These measures will help employers to better consider the skills profile of potential employees and ensure that patients and service users get the care and support they need.

Chief Executive for the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence Harry Caton said:

‘It is right that employers lead the training and supervision of their staff and a national framework of skill and competence for HCAs will help them improve this area of care with confidence and consistency’.

**Gail Adams, UNISON Head of Nursing, said: **

“This new right to training and support for healthcare assistants is a welcome step in the right direction - for staff and for patients.  Healthcare assistants are the backbone of our NHS - they work hard to deliver much of the direct, personal, and intimate bedside care that used to be delivered by nurses. But their access and right to training and development can be patchy, and their job roles and responsibilities can be unclear.

Bringing some consistency will help support the entire health team to give patients the best possible care. We should now take advantage of the great practice out there to get things moving.”

For further information, contact the Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5221

_Enabling Excellence: Autonomy and Accountability for Healthcare Workers, Social Workers and Social Care Workers (Cm8008, Feb 2011), _set out the Government’s position that national statutory regulation must be proportionate and targeted to any risks posed, but should not be the first resort in dealing with risks arising from the activities of healthcare workers.

Part 7 of the Health and Social Care Bill sets out provisions proposed in _Enabling Excellence _to enable the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence, which will be renamed in the Bill as the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care, to accredit voluntary registers of occupational groups, including of health and social care workers.

Published 15 November 2011