Healthcare assistant

Healthcare assistants make sure the patient experience is as comfortable and stress-free as possible. It can also be the stepping stone into many other NHS roles. 

"The thing I enjoy most is providing individual patient care. Having a direct influence on a person’s health is very fulfilling and I love watching a person progress and improve from admission to discharge."  Luke Watson, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead 

Read Luke's story

Working life

You'll work under the guidance of a healthcare professional such as a nurse and your job will vary depending on where you're based. For example, in a hospital you may:

In a health centres and GP surgery, you may

As well as nurses, HCAs work with doctors, midwives and other healthcare professionals. They have a lot of contact with patients.

Entry requirements 

There are no set entry requirements to become a healthcare assistant. Employers expect good literacy and numeracy and may ask for GCSEs (or equivalent) in English and maths. They may ask for a healthcare qualification, such as BTEC or NVQ.

Employers expect you to have some experience of healthcare or care work. This could be from paid or voluntary work. There are sometimes apprenticeships in healthcare that can give you experience to apply for HCA posts.

Find out more about volunteering and gaining experience

Skills and personal characteristics needed 

To be a healthcare assistant, you'll need to be

You'll also need

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 Health Education England and launched in 2015.

Find out more about the Care Certificate

You may also be offered the chance to study for qualifications such as

These could be done through an apprenticeship

Some HCAs join the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) as health practitioner members. The RCN runs training events and conferences so HCAs can update their skills and network with others doing similar work.

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