The Society for Acute Medicine response to the Cavendish Review


The Society for Acute Medicine (SAM) welcomes the two key recommendations supporting training and development of Health Care Assistants (HCAs) from the Cavendish Review published today.

Firstly, the document proposes a national ‘certificate in fundamental care’ and secondly, ‘development of a career framework’ for HCAs working in health and social care. Both recommendations echo early work in progress nationally.

Liz Lees, SAM nursing representative, nurse consultant in acute medicine is the author of the recent “Principles for safe patients transfer and handover in the acute medical units” (June 2013). The SAM document is written for Health Care Assistants (HCA) working in acute medical units (AMU) or in similar areas where the regular transfer of patients represents a significant proportion of HCA activities.

Liz Lees said: “A national Certificate of Fundamental Care will impact upon hospitals at a corporate training level; however AMUs will need to take responsibility for local training, induction and performance of HCAs. One way forward would be for AMUs to develop a standard creating parity of induction for HCAs which recognizes both ‘routine and advanced’ tasks carried out by HCAs within an AMU setting.

“As the report recognizes the role of the registered nurse and HCA have boundaries, which are blurring; whatever our considerations to support HCA development, patient safety must remain our central focus.”

The principles for safe patients transfer in AMU document offers a framework of best practice principles addressing requirements of safe transfers of patients from the acute medical units. The principles are based on the 6Cs developed by the Department of Health as part of the national nursing strategy for England in 2012:

  1. Competence: Are competent to undertake the transfer of the patient
  2. Compassion: Are aware of the patient’s physical and emotional needs during transfer
  3. Care: Provide effective care in line with patients current needs during transit
  4. Communication: Have received a good handover of the patients’ condition and care required
  5. Commitment: Always handover to a registered member of staff before leaving the patient at the new ward or department.
  6. Courage: Report any issues of concern with the transfer & handover process on return to their ward to participate in the continual review of service provision for patients.

Dr Chris Roseveare, SAM President said: “HCAs are a key part of every acute medical team and have a particularly important role in ensuring the safe transfer of patients out of the acute medical unit (AMU). This has been highlighted in Liz Lees’ recent report published on our website.”


Notes to the editors:

  • Acute medicine (also known as acute internal medicine) is the specialty which deals with the immediate and early treatment of adult patients with a variety of medical conditions who present in hospital as emergencies.
  • The Society for Acute Medicine is the national representative body for the specialty of acute medicine and represents over a thousand members.
  • The President of the Society for Acute Medicine, Dr Chris Roseveare, is available for interview.
  • Dr Roseveare has been an acute medical consultant in a large teaching hospital since 1999.
  • A session will be dedicated to developing a National Standard for HCA training within AMUs at the next Society for Acute Medicine Conference.

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