Review launched into quality of training for healthcare assistants

A new independent review has been launched to assess the current levels of training and support for healthcare and care assistants, with a view to strengthening standards and providing patients with better quality care.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the new review, which will be led by Times journalist Camilla Cavendish and report to the government by the end of May.

Among the issues it will consider are:

- Whether healthcare assistants are given the training and support they need to provide essential services and high levels of care
- Ways of improving recruitment so that the best people with the right values and behaviours are placed in the right settings
- Steps that can be taken to improve training standards

The Department of Health recognises that healthcare and care assistants provide some of the most fundamental support that patients receive – helping them with intimate tasks such as eating, washing, dressing, getting out of bed and going to the toilet.

For this reason, it is critical to ensure that the highest possible levels of care are being provided. This is something that Robert Francis QC stressed in his report in to the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, which called for healthcare providers to look at how they provide services at every level.

Speaking on the new review, Mr Hunt said: "We want everyone receiving treatment and support across the health and care sector to get the most safe, effective and compassionate care.

"So 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."

He stressed that the review will look closely at staff training, development and feedback to make sure that a compassionate and competent care system is put in place.

Ms Cavendish noted that there are more healthcare assistants than nurses in this country, adding that their work is vitally important. "Many of us will rely on them in old age and we need them to be as good as they can be," she said.