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HCAs prepare for bigger role in North London

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Blood glucose testing will be taken over by HCAs Blood glucose testing will be taken over by HCAs to free up nurses' time

Harrow CCG is training GP-based healthcare assistants to take greater responsibility for patient care in north London.

Twenty HCAs have completed six months of training equipping them with new skills including overseeing health checks, taking blood, administrating flu jabs, and pneumococcal vaccinations, blood glucose testing, spirometry and handling basic lab tests.

A local education forum made up of doctors, a nurse and practice manager found that the level of training of HCAs prior to the course was varied across Harrow's 34 practices.

Christine Bushell, an advanced nurse practitioner at St Peters' Medical Centre, Harrow, and nursing representative on the forum, said: 'We were keen to both raise standards by providing a uniform benchmark and help free up nurses' time to focus more on medicine management and treatment of long-term conditions.

The training also covers all aspects of the care certificate HCAs are required to hold so they can transfer to other surgeries or CCGs as the competencies are recognised. They can even use the points towards applying to do formal nursing training. Ms Bushell said they will be offering further modules in due course.

'We got an external provider to provide the training but were very specific about what we needed including diabetic care as Harrow the largest concentration of diabetics in the capital,' Ms Bushell added.

Dr Imtiaz Gulamali, joint chair of Harrow Education Forum, added: 'The idea is to progressively develop our HCA's skills which, in turn, will give our nurses and GPs more capacity.

'We have a limited budget so it's a case of working smarter with what we have while also giving staff the chance to move up the career ladder.'

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