A new training centre for healthcare assistants has been opened – just as a damning report was released highlighting how some are doing the jobs of doctors or nurses, with no formal qualifications.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath cut the ribbon at Solihull College’s brand new state-of-the-art Health and Care Skills Suite.
The facility will be used in the training of further and higher education students, along with healthcare professionals.
A report into the profession has found some healthcare assistants are doing jobs which should be done by doctors or nurses but do not have to undergo compulsory formal training.
The review, initiated after the publication of the public inquiry that revealed that the most basic elements of care were neglected at Stafford Hospital, called for all healthcare assistants (HCAs) to receive standard, consistent levels of training.
It stated: “Healthcare assistants have no compulsory or consistent training, and a profusion of job titles.
“This confuses patients, who often assume that everyone is a nurse; and it makes life difficult for some nurses, who are not always sure which tasks they can safely delegate.
“Some HCAs are now doing jobs that used to be the preserve of nurses, even doctors.
“The review met a group of healthcare assistants from a busy A&E who are inserting IV drips, taking blood and plastering. Yet they are paid at three levels below a newly qualified nurse.”
Opening the new facility, at the College’s Blossomfield Campus, Lord Hunt described it as “a model which should be used for the rest of the country”.
The Suite will primarily support students through the Oxford Brookes Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care.
The new college centre will offer a clinical environment with hi-tech dummies, allowing learners and professionals to practise procedures including colostomies, eye care, wound-dressing and catheterising; the dummies are even able to simulate cardiac arrests.
Teaching will have a focus upon improving personal, interpersonal, communication and listening skills. Cameras have been fitted in the Suite to allow staff to observe learners remotely so to give them the confidence and space to develop their bedside manner, meanwhile learning how to show respect and dignity.
Heather Butler, general manager for community services, said the investment boded well for healthcare improvements in the region in the future.
She said: “The opening of this excellent new facility is a further positive step in supporting the development of the future healthcare workforce and driving up standards of care.
“The foundation degree offers the opportunity to hone those skills through work-based learning, which will now be provided in state-of-the-art facilities.”