There is no minimum standard of training for healthcare assistants before they can work unsupervised, an independent report has found.
Workers should get at least two weeks’ training to prepare them for providing basic care in hospitals, care homes and at home in England, its author said.
Journalist Camilla Cavendish also said some staff were only given a training DVD to watch before starting work.
The review was set up in the wake of the Stafford Hospital scandal.
Ms Cavendish found that HCAs – who provide basic care such as feeding and washing patients – were given no “compulsory or consistent” training, and said some were doing tasks usually performed by doctors or nurses, such as taking blood.
For people to get the best care, there must be less complexity and duplication and a greater focus on ensuring that support staff are treated with the seriousness they deserve.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Cavendish said HCAs should have to earn a “Certificate of Fundamental Care”.
The qualification would link HCA training to nurse training, making it easier for staff to progress up the career ladder, should they wish to.
All new recruits would need to obtain the certificate and existing HCAs would need to prove they had the equivalent training.
Ms Cavendish said details of the training had not been agreed, but it would include basics such as first aid, infection control and dementia awareness, and would take a “couple of weeks”.
“Ongoing supervision” by employers would be essential after that, she said.
Currently, there is no consistent qualification or training for HCAs, with employers deciding for themselves what training is needed.