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Healthcare Assistants (HCA), sometimes also referred to as Health Care Support Workers, make sure the patient’s experience is as comfortable and stress-free as possible. This role can also be the stepping stone into many other NHS roles. 

Working life

You will work under the guidance of a healthcare professional such as a nursing associate or a registered nurse and your job will vary depending on where you are based. In a health centre and GP surgery, your duties may include:

  • sterilising equipment

  • carrying out health checks

  • restocking consulting rooms

  • processing lab samples

  • taking blood samples

  • health promotion or health education work

Like nurses, HCAs work with doctors, midwives and other healthcare professionals, HCAs have a lot of contact with patients.

Find out more about the role of HCA's here.

Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements to becoming a HCA.

Sometimes, employers will expect good literacy and numeracy and may ask for GCSEs (or equivalent) in English and maths. They may also sometimes ask for a healthcare qualification, such as BTEC or NVQ.

Employers can also expect you to have some experience of healthcare or care work. This could be from paid or voluntary work.

View available apprenticeships in healthcare that can give you experience to apply for HCA posts.

Training and development

Your training as a healthcare assistant will include basic nursing skills and you'll work towards the Care Certificate, developed by Skills for CareSkills for Health and NHSE and launched in 2015. Find out more about the Care Certificate.

You may also be offered the chance to study for qualifications through an apprenticeship such as:

  • The NCFE CACHE level 2 Certificate in Healthcare Support Services

  • The NCFE CACHE level 3 Diploma in Healthcare Support

With experience and further training, you could become a senior healthcare assistant. You could then apply to train as an assistant practitioner or nursing associate. With the appropriate qualifications/evidence of academic ability, you could also train as one of the many degree-level healthcare professionals such as a nursing associate.

Recommended Training

Please see below a recommended training provider which offers training tailored to HCAs. Prices range from £170-£299.

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