Workforce reform in the public services: The working lives and journeys of Healthcare Assistants

Heron, Paul, Kessler, Ian and Dopson, Sue (2008) Workforce reform in the public services: The working lives and journeys of Healthcare Assistants. In: BUIRA Conference, 26-28 June 2000, University of the West of England, Bristol.

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One of the most striking features of changes in public employment relations over recent years has been the growing importance of the assistant role, an employee working alongside and often in support of the professional. While the history and development of these roles varies markedly between different parts of the public services, the increasing number of assistants in recent years has characterised most parts of the sector. For example, the number of teaching assistants in primary and secondary schools has risen from around 50,000 to over 140,000 in the last decade (; while over the same period the number of workers supporting clinical staff in the NHS has grown from around 280,000 to close to 360,000 ( Such growth reflects the increasing weight national policy makers have placed on these roles in the pursuit of a range of broader public service reform objectives (Kessler et al, 2007).They have been seen as a means of ‘reducing burdens’ on professionals and providing a ’lower cost’ option to the professional (Morris, 2001). At the same time they have been viewed as contributing to the service standards agenda, by bringing distinctive skills to the workplace, and providing a means of addressing labour shortages, serving as a ‘grow your own’ route into the
professions (Malhorta, 2006).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords: Healthcare; Employment; Assistants;
Subject(s): Organisational behaviour
Centre: Faculty of Organisational Behaviour
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2012 20:11
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 14:06

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