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MPs renew call for mandatory HCA regulation

Mandatory statutory regulation of healthcare assistants is needed to “maximise public protection”, claims MPs.

However, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has been urged to prioritise the improvement of its “core functions” before addressing changes to its regulatory framework.

Following the resignation of its chief executive and registrar and the announcement of a DH-commissioned strategic review, the NMC has retreated from its original support for mandatory HCA regulation.

In response to the committee, the NMC said it has shelved plans dedicated to “fully scope the cost, standards and training requirements needed to establish a mandatory model for healthcare support workers”.

Instead, the regulator has now backed the voluntary registration of healthcare assistants - something it claims will provide an “effective framework for public protection”.

Despite the regulator's u-turn, the committee continues to call for mandatory statutory regulation for healthcare assistants in order to “maximise public protection” in its report Annual accountability hearings: responses and further issues 2010 - 2012.

“We support additional focus on training for healthcare support workers, and believe the NMC should keep the regulatory structure for this element of the caring workforce under regular review,” said the committee.

“The first priority of the NMC needs to be to improve its work on its current core functions before asking it to address additional responsibilities.”

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has backed the committee's call.

“This is a crucial issue and it is disappointing that the government rejected an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill guaranteeing mandatory regulation,” said Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN.

“We believe that the Government's proposed voluntary system simply does not go far enough.”

Question: Do you think the development of mandatory regulation for HCAs should be a priority for the NMC?