Cut-price care in NHS?

R. C. N. Shock Report

English: Royal College of Nursing HQ, Cavendis...

English: Royal College of Nursing HQ, Cavendish Square.  Rod Ward

The R.C. N. (Royal College Nursing) has commissioned a report to examine the training system for nurses, following a string of stories of appalling care.

NHS patients “are receiving an unacceptable level of care” from what the R.C.N. calls a ‘growing army of unqualified health care assistants who have taken over nursing roles’, an independent commission warns.

Some nursing is boring and repetitive, and a growing number are of H.C.A. (Health Care Assistants) are being trained to carried out basic  low-paid jobs by low-paid and unqualified assistants.   H.C.A. are employed for simple tasks, but are not currently trained to spot many warning signs, such rapid changes in body temperature or dehydration.

Over 6,000 trained nurses have been lost to the NHS workforce since the last election, even though nursing has grown more complex and specialised in the last decade.


The report recommends training all H.C.As to at least NVQ Level 3 standard;  the non-academic equivalent of A-levels, to ensure they reach an acceptable level of competence.

How to recognise HCAs

Visiting Gran in the local hospital;  whom do you talk to about their care?

Once, Sister was to be found behind her desk, fully in charge of ‘their’ ward.

Now, since the egalitarian movement which stripped all nursing staff of badges of distinction, such as caps, belt badges, etc.  it is difficult to differentiate between HCAs or Nurses.

When Gran is first admitted she will probably have a properly qualified nurse looking after.  Grab the Nurse Now;  ask questions; and realise this is probably your last chance of getting an informed response.

Then, you take your chance with an HCA.  Some can be brilliant – but often they haven’t a clue.  That’s when you actually manage to find one to talk to.   Sister?  You’ve got to be joking.  Last time I tried to talk to someone about 90-year old relative’s care, I waited three days to see Sister, until I worked out that the hospital was on an economy drive, and had ‘suspended’ the post of person-in-charge of a 24-bedded ward.


Mind you, there is nothing to stop you paying yourself for a private nurse to look after Gran.  Officially they are not supposed to carry out medical tasks, but I have yet to hear a friend say ‘their’ nurse was stopped from helping Gran.

What we must realise is that nursing is like any job – you have to be qualified, and then you can nurse wherever your qualifications take you.

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