Monday, 24 October 2011

Health Care Assistants

Baroness Masham of Ilton, a cross bench life peer who campaigns for health causes and comments on health and disability issues, used the debate in the Lords on the Health and Social Care Bill to call for a mandatory register of health care assistants. This follows a comment from the health minister, Earl Howe, which showed that nurses who have been struck off the register can still be employed as health care assistants. The Nursing and Midwifery Council is obliged to inform the Independent Safeguarding Agency of any nurses who are struck off and who pose a risk to patients but others can work as health care assistants under the assumption that they will always be supervised. As any of us who have visited wards or nursing homes at night know, supervision is often not always exactly first hand and immediate.

Baroness Masham is planning to put forward an ammendment to the Bill which will make a register of health care assistants mandatory. At present, the Bill makes provision for a voluntary register only. I agree with her concern that, at present, there is no protection for some of our our more vulnerable patients from carers who maybe just don't make the grade and don't offer the good standard of compassionate care given by the vast majority of carers. Baroness Masham wants to see some very basic training given as a condition of entry to the register. She herself has spent periods in hospitals recently and points out that, during busy periods, carers spend a lot of time carrying out vital basic care unsupervised by nursing staff. The fact that most give high quality care does not prevent some from falling far short of accpetable standards, as we have seen in some recentrather worrying reports on hospitals and nursing homes. I am sure that most carers would welcome the opportunity to receive training and update their understanding of resources and equipment available.

Baroness Masham, who lives in North Yorkshire, has been a tireless campaigner for health issues  She is the senior female life peer in the House of Lords, commenting, especially, on health and penal affairs, drug abuse, farming and horticulture. As a Roman Catholic, she is patron of the Margaret Beaufort Institute in Cambridge which provides theological education for lay women. The Institute is an inspirational community whose students I was privileged to teach and supervise during my years with the Cambridge Theological Federation. It sets out 'to offer transforming experiences for women, the community and the Church through theological education, professional pastoral practice and personal formation, assisting women to discern God’s call and preparing them for lay ministries and Christian discipleship in today’s world.'

She also runs the Masham Riding Centre  

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