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It’s time for a minimum qualification for unregulated healthcare workers: ACN

Unlicensed healthcare workers need regulation, not only for the wellbeing of those under their care but to ensure they’re not putting their own careers in jeopardy.

That’s one of the key messages the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) is sending through a new white paper.

It calls for unregulated healthcare workers (UHCW) to obtain a minimum qualification before working within primary or acute settings or residential aged care, and for regulation of this growing segment of the workforce.

The college's concern partly stems from the fact UHCWs are increasingly undertaking activities that fall within nursing work.

Professor Lee Boyd, chair of ACN’s Workforce Sustainability Policy Chapter, said while Australia’s health system could not operate without unregistered carers, “their responsibilities, level of supervision and even their job title differs across the country”.

On top of nationally consistent minimum educational and ongoing professional development requirements, ACN wants there to be nationally consistent titles, codes of conduct, professional standards and scope of practice.

“Nurses have witnessed the harm/detrimental effects experienced by those who rely on care from the health and aged care system, which has thus far failed to regulate UHCWs who are increasingly providing nursing care without adequate qualifications to ensure patient safety,” the white paper read.

“As the pre-eminent professional nursing body, ACN is committed to working with the Australian Government to facilitate a sustainable, appropriately skilled and regulated workforce to meet future health care needs of all Australians.”

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