Health and care employers should be required to record the training of their healthcare assistants, an influential member of the Lords has said.

Lord Willis of Knaresborough chaired a review of nurse education commissioned by the Royal College of Nursing last year. In a keynote address at the RCN congress this week he called on the health secretary to quickly make it compulsory for all healthcare providers to keep a register of the training their HCAs had received.

Lord Willis said this could act as a starting point for full registration of HCAs, which would require a focus on training and common standards.

“I understand that reluctance [to register HCAs] at a time of restricted budgets. I call on the secretary of state today to make it a mandatory requirement to register the training staff have received and to make it available for other bodies to see including the Care Quality Commission and patients and relatives,” he said.

Lord Willis said it would help make employers act responsibly.

“If in fact [the employer] is using staff on the frontline who have no training or inappropriate training that would be there… and that would be very powerful.”

Lord Willis also criticised the government’s plan to make aspiring nurses work as HCAs for a year to gain entry onto a funded nursing course, pointing out neither his own review nor the Mid Staffordshire Public Inquiry report had recommended it.

“For most students the experience of working in a caring capacity is a fundamental requirement and experience as a HCA may be valuable. But only where it’s accompanied by high quality training and supervision and so far not a word has accompanied the [government’s] proposals.”

Asked whether he agreed with Robert Francis QC’s recommendations on education of nurses Lord Willis said there was “nothing fundamentally wrong” with them but “wished” Mr Francis had spent more time looking at the practical elements of nurse education, such as mentoring.