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Care England slams ‘wholly insufficient’ government efforts to help sector’s recruitment crisis

Care England

Care England, representative body for independent providers of adult social care in England, is calling for government intervention to help remedy the agency staff crisis in the sector and to address wider workforce pressures.

With the Health and Social Care Committee (HSCC) stating that the care sector is going through the “greatest workforce crisis in its history”, research has found that vacancies in the sector have increased by 52% (55,000) over the past 12 months.

The use of agency staff has been “a bandage” over more deep-rooted recruitment and retention issues, Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, explained.

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Green continued: “The results of our recent survey demonstrate the severity of these issues, with the usage and cost of agency staff increasing dramatically over the last year.

“This is not only affecting the quality and continuity of care but compounding pressures on the NHS. Without central intervention, these issues will only worsen over the coming months.”

“Whilst we appreciate the DHSC and wider government departments’ plans to aid providers’ ability to recruit and retain staff, we remain concerned about the lack of a joined-up, strategic approach. The current measures in place are wholly insufficient.”

Care England’s agency fee survey unveiled the extent to which the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the reliance on agency staff, reaching a point of unsustainability for the sector. The survey found that:

  • 78% of respondents said they are using more/significantly more agency staff compared to April 2021, with 88% saying it was more/significantly more challenging to book them.
  • 86% of respondents said the costs of agency staff have increased since April 2021, 74% said they had to contact multiple agencies to source agency staff and 77% said it became more difficult to book them. There was a theme of poor quality, less experienced and inappropriately trained staff, with 73% of respondents reporting that agency staff were less reliable.
  • Agency rates were significantly greater than carer (£19.57 vs £9.90) and nurse (£27.56 vs £19.49) employee hourly rates.

Green explained there is a rich pool of individuals, both internationally and domestically, that have the potential to bolster the workforce and reduce reliance on agency staff.

He added:  “Agency is a short-term solution which has now snowballed into a long-term fix for adult social care providers. This is not sustainable. We need a root and branch reform of how individuals enter and progress through roles within the sector.

Last week, Care England echoed the call of the Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities Committee asking for equal pay rates between domestic and overseas staff and issuing a plan for overseas recruitment in line with the code of practice on global staff shortages, and for an additional £7 billion per year for social care.

Green concluded: “We stand by this call to action, but this must come as part of a wider review which forms part of a fully funded 10-year workforce plan.”

Tags : Care EnglandMartin Green
Gemma Lloyd

The author Gemma Lloyd

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