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    Modernization of the Nursing Workforce: Valuing the healthcare assistant

    By: Paul Heron

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    The Modernization of the Nursing Workforce: Valuing the healthcare assistant is based on recently completed research exploring the role of healthcare assistants (HCA) in acute hospitals. Whilst a support role working alongside registered nurses has been a longstanding feature of the NHS, the contemporary HCA role has become increasingly central to the process of health service modernization. The role is now assuming even greater importance as theramifications of financial constraints, restructuring and other pressures on the NHS play out. The issue is becoming increasingly relevant as the government has commissioned an independent review into the role of healthcare assistants, the Cavendish Review, which uses this book extensively. The HCA role is unregulated and low paid, but by taking-on direct care tasks from registered nurses, the role has become politically sensitive. The HCA remains a cheap and flexible source of labour, but the unregulated role encourages dilemmas and public scrutiny over risk and patient safety. The book explores how public policy reform of the health service feeds through to impact upon the management and structure of the healthcare workforce. More specifically, the book provides a timelyevidence base for the extended and growing use of the HCA role. The book draws upon a multi-method research design from four geographically located hospital trusts in England, which during a three year period saw over 270 staff interviewed, focus groups and interviews with over 100 patients, some 275 hours of ward-based observation, and detailed survey responses from over 3,000 members of staff and hospital patients. The unusual richness of the data allows a definitive examination of who undertakes the HCA role, its shape, nature and diversity, along with the consequences for those with a stake in the role - hospital managers, the assistants themselves, the patients they care for and the nurses they work alongside, making The Modernization of the Nursing Workforce: Valuing the healthcare assistant essential reading for health care studies and public management communities, and those charged withtraining and education policy.

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