The care home sector is facing a ‘mass exodus’ of around 70,000 workers due to mandatory COVID legislation, the GMB has warned.
The union said the decision to force staff vaccination would exacerbate recruitment shortages caused by poor pay.
It added that offering bonuses, citing an HC-One £10k signing on fee for registered night nurses, would do little to stem the flow.
Kelly Andrews, GMB Social Care lead, said: “Throwing bonuses at people to fix long-term problems within social care, however welcome those one-off payments are for individual workers, is like throwing a deckchair from the top deck of the titanic.
“The only way providers and government are going to solve the recruitment crisis in care is by paying the workforce a decent salary of £15 an hour.
“As we head towards the end of the year we are likely to see lots more leave the profession – the UK government estimates it could be up to a further 70,000.
“To stop this mass exodus we need the workforce to be priority in any investment in the sector and that means in the workforces pay packets.
“Those that hold the purse strings need to recognise the sacrifices care workers have made and the professional work that has been carried out daily during the pandemic and before under unrelenting pressures. Its time these workers were properly valued. It’s long overdue they paid up.”
An HC-One spokesperson told CHP its welcome bonus payment was only offered in specific circumstances and for specific roles with amounts varying.
The spokesperson said the bonus was not a new payment and was payable over two years in order to be retentive.
“With widely reported recruitment challenges across the sector, we are committed to doing everything in our power to make sure we recruit the right people, with the right values and qualifications, to provide the high-quality care our residents deserve and expect,” the spokesperson said.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The social care sector has been an essential and valued part of the front line response to the pandemic. We have sought to protect the workforce and those receiving social care, providing over £2 billion for the sector including infection prevention and control measures, free PPE and regular testing, and we prioritised staff for the vaccine.
“The government is working alongside employers to ensure the care workforce has the right number of people to meet increasing demands, including running national recruitment campaigns every year.
“The government is committed to reforming the adult social care system and will bring forward proposals in 2021.”