Healthcare Support Worker (HCSW) / Healthcare Assistant (HCA)


The role of Healthcare Support Worker is an umbrella term for a number of different support roles within the NHS. In Primary Care the role is most commonly known as a Healthcare Assistant (HCA).

HCAs work under the guidance of registered healthcare professionals, providing and assisting in the delivery of healthcare, often working independently within the GP Practice. They have a duty of care to their patients and are accountable to their employer.

Job Responsibilities

As a HCA you will work within a multi-professional team providing population healthcare. Job responsibilities will vary from practice to practice, some examples are:

  • Perform NHS Health Checks
  • Blood pressure management
  • Basic wound care
  • Take blood samples
  • Recording ECGs
  • Health promotion such as smoking cessation and weight management
  • Chaperoning team members

Entry Requirements

There are no set entry requirements to become a HCA, but good literacy and numeracy skills will be expected. You will need to have clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

The skills and personal characteristics needed include:

  • Caring & kind
  • Cheerful & friendly
  • Willing to be hands-on with patients
  • Willing to perform personal care tasks
  • Able to follow instruction & procedures
  • Work in a team but also use own initiative
  • Have good communication, organisation and observational skills.

It will be expected that you gain the Care Certificate if this has not been achieved previously during your employment induction.

Opportunities include further education via an Apprenticeship or self-funding to become a Nursing Associate or Registered Nurse.


Healthcare support workers play a vital role in providing excellent care to patients across primary care settings and are increasingly encouraged to undertake some of the exciting Apprenticeship opportunities available.

HCSW can initially access the Care Certificate Care Certificate – elearning for healthcare ( and the additional Higher Development Award (HDA) .

 Higher Development Award

Download the HDA pathway to understand what it covers and visit the Skills for Health website to see a detailed list of the learning outcomes . Both of these learning programmes provide development for those wishing to stay in the support worker role and for those who wish to continue to develop their learning through further apprenticeship routes.

The HCSW role can also lead to a range of career opportunities. With the right support, those who exemplify the skills and core values essential to delivering high-quality, compassionate care could go on to become our future nurses, nursing associates, or Allied Health Professional team members. NHS England » A guide to retaining your healthcare support worker workforce