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Nurses call for healthcare support staff to be regulated
Date Posted: 22/Mar/2019
The ACN has released its white paper into the unregulated healthcare workforce across the primary, acute and aged care sectors in Australia. The report has called on the Federal Government to regulate the healthcare workforce to ensure all staff have minimum training requirements under their belt before entering the workforce.
ACN chief executive Kylie Ward said unregulated workers — including personal care assistants, aged care workers, auxiliary nurses and birth assistants — were a "valued group" but they needed to be regulated and supervised.
"The aged care and chronic illness tsunami is bearing down on us," she said. Currently, the unregulated healthcare workforce is not subject to a national code of conduct, professional standards, minimum training requirements or a police check.
There is also no clear statutory mechanism for the receipt, management, investigation and potential prosecution of complaints. All healthcare workers should be admitted to a register
"Unregulated healthcare workers are neither appropriately trained nor possess appropriate knowledge and critical thinking to understand when care needs are changing or deteriorating, and when care needs require urgent attention," the paper stated. "From a public safety perspective, this is unacceptable."
The paper called for the regulation to include admission to a register.
In order to be eligible for admission, healthcare workers would have to satisfy minimum training, criminal record checks with annual or biannual renewal of registration — similar to registered nurses. The report also stated that healthcare support staff should be deployed as "support only" and should not be replacing registered nurses.
"Unregulated workers are estimated to make up a considerable portion of the Australian clinical workforce across all three healthcare settings, with 70 per cent representing the aged care workforce," the paper stated. Professor Ward said it was concerning that some aged care businesses were "choosing money over safety".
"We are certainly very concerned if organisations and employers are employing an unregulated healthcare worker in place of a registered nurse, that is absolutely dangerous," she said.
"There are some really good employers who do invest in all levels of their workforce but unfortunately that is not consistent and because these workers are unregulated, they are really quite vulnerable themselves."
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has heard that more than 50 per cent of Australia's aged care workforce have not had any training on dementia — despite projections it will become the leading cause of death for people aged over 85 by 2050.
Source: abc

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