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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 recent 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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  1. There is glaring exclusion of Disability Support Workers here. These workers are often sole traders, complete complex tasks such as PEG feeding and suctioning and have little to no supervision or accountability. The disability sector has no current implied or industry imposed expectations for base line training or skills and knowledge development and therefore should be included in this consideration.

    Further to this community aged care workers should also be included

    • I often think that the lack of concern in regards to qualification required to be held by carers in aged and disability care reflects sadly, the disregard we as a community and our elected representatives place on the lives of such individuals. Its like a mirror into society’s soul. No one cares, they are out of sight, out of mind

  2. i agree you need a minimum set of standards to operate by. If you can;t organise it then it will be “organised” for you. Our concern is always with the quality of what is delivered. In operator land there seems to be a fine line between care, compliance, capability and cost…. Don’t want too much cost but too little capability and we are doing harm….