RCN: mandatory registration of HCSWs required
Published: 20 December 2012
The Royal College of Nursing has described proposals for a voluntary register of health care support workers as “fundamentally weak”. The RCN has called on the Government to do what is necessary to ensure that health care support workers are trained, monitored and supported through mandatory regulation underpinned by law.
In a new document, The Weaknesses of Voluntary Regulation for Health Care Support Workers, the RCN sets out the fundamental pitfalls of a regulatory system which allows for an unacceptable level of risk to patient safety.
Dr Peter Carter, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, said that the NHS could not operate without health care support workers, who deliver care to patients in hospitals, care homes and the community. He acknowledged that many receive excellent training and support but stressed that for many the training can be minimal.
“With the proposed voluntary system of regulation, employers and more importantly patients will not have full confidence that the person caring for them meets the standards required wherever they work. Voluntary regulation would be a compromise which simply wouldn’t solve the problem, and could delay what is actually needed, namely the mandatory regulation of all health care support workers, underpinned by law.
“A consistent, mandatory system of regulation is the only way to ensure that concerns about performance and conduct are tackled. A voluntary system will simply pave the way for multiple registers, varying standards and the most worrying situations slipping through the net,” he said.
RCN Health Care Assistant Adviser Tanis Hand said: “We know that health care support workers themselves favour regulation as providing role definition and an expectation of training and quality standards. It is really important to get this right and this document sets out the serious pitfalls of voluntary regulation which must be avoided.”
Health Minister Earl Howe recently stated that the Government has an “open mind” with regards to the regulation of health care support workers, and wishes to keep the situation under review in order to respond to the recommendations of the upcoming Francis report into care provided by the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust.