Health

Healthcare assistants: Mandatory regulation 'needed'

Geriatric care by healthcare assistant
Image caption Healthcare assistants are employed to do basic tasks like feeding and washing patients

Nurses are stepping up their campaign to get ministers to toughen up the regulation of healthcare support staff in England.

The Royal College of Nursing has been calling for mandatory regulation to be introduced for some time.

Ministers have agreed to introduce a voluntary system in the coming years.

But the college said that does not go far enough and has now released a petition signed by 2,500 front-line staff calling for further action.

The RCN has argued that as healthcare support staff are increasingly becoming involved in patient care, it is only right they are subject to similar assessment regimes as nurses and midwives.

Accountability

To add weight to their demands, they have now got nurses and healthcare support workers themselves to sign a letter calling for change.

The document has been handed over to ministers as the House of Lords debates the Health and Social Care Bill.

RCN general secretary Peter Carter said mandatory regulation would also ensure support workers are equipped with the right skills.

He added: "Anyone who is responsible for delivering care should be regulated and accountable for their actions."

Under the government's plan, set out last month, a new system of healthcare support staff will be introduced from 2013.

There will be a code of conduct and minimum training standards, but it will remain voluntary.

Ministers have argued that as healthcare support workers do their jobs under supervision and as they are subject to normal employment and criminal records checks there is no need for a mandatory system.

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