This site is intended for health professionals only

Healthcare assistant review launched

An independent review into the training and support of healthcare assistants has been announced by the Health Secretary. 

Led by The Times journalist Camilla Cavendish, the review will look into how healthcare assistants can have the training and support they need to provide care at “the highest standards”. 

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “We want everyone receiving treatment and support across the health and care sector to get the most safe, effective and compassionate care.

“We need to make sure that the staff tasked with carrying out some of the most personal and fundamental jobs have the skills, values and behaviours needed to provide this.” 

'Skilled tasks' 

Cavendish will report back to the government at the end of May, after agreeing to conduct the review, which will draw on the lessons from the Francis report. 

The journalist was described as having “a long-standing and strong interest” in the quality of care and compassion in health and social care, by Jeremy Hunt. 

Cavendish said she is “delighted” to lead the review, which will also look into how recruitment can be “strengthened”.

“Feeding an elderly sick person, turning them and avoiding pressure sores are skilled tasks,” she said. 

“There are more care assistants than nurses in this country, many of us will rely on them in old age, and we need them to be as good as they can possibly be."

Review 'hugely significant' 

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said the review would be “hugely significant” for improving care. 

Dr Peter Carter, RCN chief executive and general secretary said: “This review must build on the recommendations made by the Francis Inquiry, which was very clear that registration must go alongside improvements in training if care is to be improved across the board.”

The RCN said it has worked closely with Skills for Health and Skills for Care to set out training standards that are needed. 

But “without mandatory regulation” RCN claims there is a danger “unsuitable” staff could move between employers unchecked.