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Report unveils risks to hospital patients of treatment by untrained staff

A BBC investigation has uncovered how shocking risks are being taken in hospitals due to a lack of trained staff. During the course of the investigation, the team found untrained healthcare assistants looking after wards full of patients unsupervised and staff being asked to carry out tasks that they have had no training for, such as  lifting patients, taking blood samples, and inserting IV drips, roles that are above their pay grade and beyond their experience and training.

Healthcare assistants' duties normally involve basic care such as washing and dressing patients, serving and feeding them food, toileting and bed making, and taking measurements such as temperature, height and weight.  NICE guidelines on healthcare assistants state that they should only be given tasks within the scope of their competence, with enough nurses available to support and supervise at any given time. A Care Certificate is to be introduced on the 1st April 2015 which will introduce basic standards of training for healthcare assistants. There will be roll-out of training for the new Certificate, initially to new starters in the profession but to include existing staff in due course.

Jonathan Zimmern, barrister and senior associate with Fieldfisher says: "This news is deeply concerning but, tragically, not something that will come as a surprise to many of the patients who have been injured as a result of the poor care they received whilst in hospital.  It is unacceptable that Healthcare assistants are not supervised properly and that patients are not properly cared for, particularly in the aftermath of high profile examples of poor care like the Mid-Staffordshire scandal.   You have to feel for staff who are put in a situation completely out of their depth with little or no training.  There are around 1.3 million staff in the NHS who have little or no training and we can only hope that the rollout of Care Certificate training is carried out as quickly yet effectively as possible."

If you have been affected by this story please get in touch.

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