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Nursing tasks carried out by healthcare assistants

21st September 2010

A survey carried out by Unison has discovered that healthcare assistants are carrying out work normally done by nurses as a matter of routine.

nurse helping patient

The survey of healthcare assistants (HCAs), which is carried out once every two years, asked them about the work they performed.

It showed that the most frequently performed work was the monitoring and recording of patient observations, with 70% of HCAs reporting that they carried this out every day.

The survey showed HCAs often carried out tasks traditionally performed by nurses, such as feeding patients (32%) and washing patients (36%).

The survey found that 18% of HCAs were responsible for taking blood from patients. 

Nearly 60% of HCAs said they would support restrictions being imposed on the the type of work they could carry out.

The number of HCAs who wanted to begin professional training dropped from 41% in 2008 to 33% in 2010.

Ian Kessler, a lecturer in employee relations at Oxford University’s Said Business School, coauthored DH-funded research into the roles of HCAs, said: "This tends to confirm our research that HCAs are not only carrying out direct care, such as making beds and feeding patients, but that they have started to move into what could be called low level technical tasks such as observations and taking blood samples."

 

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