Cost concerns must not compromise patient care says REC

Filed under News update

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Released on 20 April 2011

Responding today to claims that the NHS employs at least 150,000 unqualified healthcare workers in place of qualified professionals, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation cautioned that cost concerns must not be allowed to impede patient care. 

Figures estimate that there are at least 150,000 healthcare assistants working in hospitals and care homes who may not be suitably qualified, often carrying out important tasks such as washing and feeding patients.

Commenting on these figures, Gillian Econopouly, the REC’s Head of Public Policy, said:

“In healthcare, the first priority must always be to safeguard patient safety.  It is therefore concerning to see that unqualified healthcare assistants are being used as cheap cover for experienced professionals.  This is unacceptable, as NHS workforce recruitment must be decided on the basis of what a candidate can do, not how much they cost.

“As budgets are slashed, there is a risk that this approach will be repeated widely across the public sector.  In schools, we have seen cover supervisors taking on the responsibility of supply teachers, whilst in some local authorities, unqualified assistants have been used to substitute the care and support that qualified social workers provide.

“The NHS and the public sector must recognise the dangers of such an approach.  Not only does it limit institutional expertise, but is often not cost effective. As an alternative, the public sector should replicate the approach of the private sector and embrace the use of flexible and temporary staff - qualified professionals who are employed as and when their skills are required.”


Contact: Ed Sexton

Phone: 020 7009 2192

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