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Recommendation for Healthcare Assistant Training

An independent report conducted by Journalist Camilla Cavendish has found that there is no minimum standard of training for healthcare assistants before they can work unsupervised.

Ms Cavendish found that HCAs were given no “compulsory or consistent” training, and said some were doing tasks usually performed by doctors or nurses, such as taking blood.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Cavendish suggested that HCAs should have to earn a “Certificate of Fundamental Care” that could link HCA training to nurse training, making it easier for staff to progress up the career ladder, should they wish to. Furthermore, she said that new recruits would need to obtain the certificate and existing HCAs would need to prove they had the equivalent training.

Ms Cavendish said details of the training had not been agreed, but it would include basics such as first aid, people handling training skills infection control and dementia awareness, and would take a “couple of weeks”.

Currently, there is no consistent qualification or training for HCAs, with employers deciding for themselves what training is needed.

Peter Carter, of the Royal College of Nursing welcomed the report but had some concerns that without mandatory checks, staff found unsuitable could move between employers unchecked. He said that “The priority must now be to underpin the recommendations made by Camilla Cavendish in the regulatory structure which governs care”

Christina McAnea, of Unison, said that in some hospitals HCA’s were treated as “cheap labour” before adding that “Common training standards across health and social care are long overdue and welcome.”

The government is expected to provide a formal response to the review in the autumn. It has already promised to establish “minimum training standards” for HCAs by spring 2014.

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Happy Birthday NHS

The NHS is celebrating its 65th birthday today. Originally launched on 5 July 1948 at the Park Hospital in Manchester it was the first time anywhere in the world that completely free healthcare was made available purely on the basis of citizenship and need, rather than the payment of fees or insurance premiums. Today it is almost impossible to imagine life before the NHS.

To celebrate we thought you might like to read an excellent poem that was written by poet Michael Rosen back in 2008 when the NHS celebrated its 60th birthday; find it by clicking on the link


Carers Should be Screened for Depression say Doctors

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) estimates that as much as one in every twenty patients with a GP practice is providing unpaid care and it is thought that about 40% of carers are thought to be at risk of depression or stress because of their caring role.

The Carer’s Trust defines a carer as someone of any age who provides unpaid support to family or friends who could not manage without this help. This could be caring for a relative, partner or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or substance misuse problems.

It is estimated that about seven million people in the UK currently provide unpaid care to a sick or disabled child or adult saving the tax payer in the region of £119 billion annually. However according to the RCGP many of these people are not properly supported in this vital role.

The RCGP have drawn up a list of clinical commissioning groups – these are small groups of GPs that are involved in planning care at a local level – to put into place measures to ensure that carer’s mental health needs are taken into account. The have advised that a screening process for depression should involve “a small number of general, non-invasive questions about overall mood and mental well-being.”

Alice takes care of her husband Frank in their home in Liverpool. Frank has mild dementia and long term chest problems “Sometimes I feel so isolated and down, I do not get many visitors and nobody rings so I can spend all day talking to nobody apart from Frank. Conversations with Frank are often difficult as he does not always remember what we are talking about. My sister tells me to go and see my GP and get some help – she may well be right.”

Dr Clare Gerada, chairperson of the RCGPs says ‘Carers often neglect their own healthcare needs and in many cases it is only a matter of time before they themselves become ill. GPs can play a crucial role in identifying potential problems in the early stages and screening for depression is something that many GPS are already doing. Commissioners need to invest in supporting carers as a critical asset. They already save the public purse £119bn a year and this initiative could save even more by ensuring that carers stay well enough to keep on caring.”


Advice News

Changes to the Disclosure and Barring Service

The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 merged the functions of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) into one body: the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). The DBS covers England and Wales with Disclosure Scotland and Access Northern Ireland fulfilling the same role elsewhere in the UK. The role of the DBS is to enable organisations from public, private and voluntary sectors to identify potential employees who may not be appropriate to work in certain roles with particular emphasis on those working with children or vulnerable adults. The new body became effective on the 1st December 2012.

Around a quarter of the working population of the United Kingdom work in circumstances that fall within the DRB’s remit.

Previously the DBS produced certificates listing an individual’s entire history of convictions regardless of when they occurred or the significance of the crime or misdemeanour. The recent upholding by the Court of Appeal of a complaint that such a blanket approach risked breaching peoples’ right to privacy has required a change in policy and, since the end of May 2013, some convictions will be filtered.

Convictions can now be excised from the record if they meet the following three criteria: firstly, that at least eleven years have elapsed since the date of the conviction; secondly, that it is the individual’s only conviction and thirdly, that said conviction was not punished with a custodial sentence.


Furthermore, candidates are not obliged to inform potential employers of convictions which would not be appear on a DBS certificate. An employer taking such a conviction into account would risk prosecution uner the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, 1974.