Carer holding an elderly patient's hand
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Cavendish: NHS care problem 'is cultural'

10 July 2013 Last updated at 09:22 BST

An independent review of support staff who provide basic care in NHS hospitals, residential homes and in the community has found there's no minimum standard of training before staff are allowed to work unsupervised.

A Sunday Times journalist, Camilla Cavendish, was asked by the government to look at the role of healthcare assistants in England after the Stafford Hospital scandal.

She found that they had no compulsory or consistent training - even though some took blood and did tasks usually done by nurses or doctors.

The Today programme's Sima Kotecha heard from one healthcare assistant, Trudy Braily, about the kind of things HCAs are expected to do for which they are not trained.

Camilla Cavendish, the associate editor for The Sunday Times, told the Today programme's Sarah Montague that the problem with care in the NHS "is cultural".

She said that she is also looking the problem of dismissal. "It is incredibly difficult to get rid of somebody," she explained.

She added she wants healthcare assistants to be taught fundamental care skills alongside nurses - and for their managers to be held to account for their performance: "Many nurses have told us that they find it quite hard to know what they can safely delegate to healthcare assistants because there is a different language that separates the two professions."

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Wednesday 10 July 2013.