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Innovative new development pathway for healthcare assistants

08 Feb 2016

West London Mental Health Trust is launching an exciting new training pathway for healthcare assistants (HCAs), which will enable them to develop their careers by learning more nursing skills.

Funded by Health Education North West London, this innovative new pathway will allow the trust to provide traineeships and apprenticeships to increase the skills of HCAs. Additionally, a new Band 4 assistant practitioner role will be created – a position that bridges the role of a registered nurse and a traditional healthcare assistant. This will help cover the current knowledge gap between the two professions, and increase the range of skills available within each team, to enhance patient care.

Improving the skills of healthcare assistants so they can assist with a wider range of duties will help address the shortage of band 5 registered nurses, which trusts nationally are experiencing. It is also hoped that the new pathway will improve staff retention, by offering HCAs better opportunities for career progression; for HCAs who want to progress onto formal nurse training, the trust is adding numeracy, literacy and study skills to the Diploma in Health & Social Care that we offer. This will provide HCAs with the pre-entry qualifications they would need if they wanted to access nursing training.

The trust is also looking at how to ensure we can continue to deliver high quality healthcare in the future. The trust plans to link with locals schools to encourage a wider variety of students to consider careers in healthcare.

Ali Webster, head of staff development, said: “This really is exciting times for our workforce. Our healthcare assistants deliver a high proportion of our direct patient care, so it is vital that they are supported, and given the chance to build on their skills.”

Beverley Murphy, director of nursing and patient experience, said: “Health care assistants are amongst some of our most valued staff. We need to do all we can to show Health Care Assistants that we value them by giving the opportunities to keep them motivated and to develop their skills should they want to move on. This development pathway is a great step forward and I believe will make a difference to the quality and continuity of care we offer.”

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