More band 5 roles could be filled by NHS support staff, says Skills for Health

NHS advisory body urges employers to be more willing to promote unregistered staff

Healthcare providers underestimate the skill levels of support workers and do not give them enough opportunities to become nurses or progress their careers in other ways, the government-licensed body that advises the NHS on workforce issues said.

Skills for Health said in its report on raising the quality of the health workforce, that support workers are getting 'stuck' in band four. 

The report said employers tend to fill band five with registered professionals such as nurses because they feel there is less risk, but that sometimes these jobs could be taken by support workers. 

Employers should consider creating apprenticeships to develop skills in-house and enable more support workers to train as nurses, Skills for Health stated.

The report said: ‘Rather than a top-down government target, the development of support workers needs to become a national habit. There is a need for support workers to be held in higher esteem than they are, and to have progression routes.’

The RCN cautioned last week that the now-defunct position of enrolled nurse – a support worker who provided care under the direction of a nurse – should not be reintroduced into the NHS. Such staff had few career opportunities and were not adequately supervised, the college said. 

Read the Skills for Health report here



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