UNISON, the UK’s largest union, today welcomed recommendations in the Cavendish Review into the future role of healthcare assistants (HCAs) and care workers calling it a “once in a generation opportunity”.
Many of the recommendations are in line with what healthcare assistants, care workers and UNISON have been campaigning for over many years. Registration was not part of the Review but the union reiterated its call for registration as the best way to protect patients and staff. The union also welcomed the clear recommendation from Ms Cavendish in support of UNISON’s campaign that homecare workers should have a statutory right to be paid for time spent travelling between clients.
Christina McAnea, UNISON Head of Health, said:
“Healthcare assistants are the backbone of the NHS and the Cavendish Review is a once in a generation opportunity to make fundamental changes for the good of patients and staff.
“Common training standards across health and social care are long overdue and welcome. In some hospitals HCA’s are highly trained and respected but in other settings they have been treated as cheap labour. We want a commitment from the government that training will be properly funded and HCAs and care workers are given the paid time they need to successfully complete the new certificate of fundamental care.
“HCAs have already proved their commitment and loyalty on the wards and some will welcome the opportunity to progress into nursing. Again, measures must be taken to ensure that they are supported in this aim and that means seconding and helping staff to take on and complete their course. This will pay dividends, as we know that most HCAs when qualified return to the hospital they first worked in.
“Introducing the title of nursing assistant after further training is a recognition of the skilled role that many play. However, there is a lot of confusion felt by patients as to who they should turn to for help. The new title must come in and the plethora of old job titles done away with to dispel that confusion.”
“For social care workers the report will be a welcome recognition of the value of the work they do. UNISON’s Time to Care report and Ethical Care Charter have demonstrated that paying care workers sub-minimum wage levels and keeping them on zero hours contracts means poor care for people who must rely on it for any quality of life. The government must provide funding to stem the crisis in care to give the review’s recommendations any chance of being implemented.”
The union will be studying the report in more detail and will discuss the findings with HCA and social care members.