Charities call for immediate action on care staffing crisis

Vic Rayner – high res (003)

A coalition of charities led by the National Care Forum (NCF) has called on the government to take action on the care workforce crisis so that older people can get home from hospital this winter.

An open letter to Sajid Javid sent by the National Care Forum, British Geriatrics Society, Age UK, Independent Age, Care England and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy calls for an immediate bonus and pay rise for social care staff and for care workers to be added to the Shortage Occupation List.

Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of the National Care Forum, (pictured) said: “The pressure on people is immense. Shortages in the care workforce mean that people are not able to be in the place they call home and often are spending too long in hospital where they are unable to receive the care they need. There is no time for government to delay. If we fail to take decisive action to address this workforce crisis, then we fail the people and communities that we are all here to serve.”

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The call follows the latest NHS data showing there were 7,806 fewer staff in care homes in England since the deadline for staff to receive their first jab in September, with almost half of people leaving since mid-September (48%) in the week up to 14 November.

Jayne Connery, director of the Care Campaign for the Vulnerable (CCFTV), said feedback from families and staff showed the staffing shortfall was intensifying with several providers confirming they were mothballing beds because staff were not available.

Jayne said: “The care sector has had to not only navigate the issues around Brexit (many former employees of EU member states returned home) but also very recently, the compulsory release of staff who did not wish to have their COVID vaccinations. These circumstances are creating quality issues at many homes, as staffing numbers plummet and vulnerable people have to wait very much longer for help and support with activities of living.”

Neil Russell, chairman of specialist neurological care provider, PJ Care, said he had lost 24 staff with a combined experience of nearly 90 years due to the implementation of mandatory vaccination.

Neil said PJ Care had an additional 20 staff currently self-certified with a combined experience of 74 years.

“We are focusing on either completing their exemptions or getting them vaccinated before the end of the year to avoid losing them,” Neil said.

The PJ Care chair said it could take years to replace staff lost in terms of recruitment, training and competency. PJ Care is spending £50,000 on a recruitment campaign and is looking as far as the Philippines and Africa to recruit nursing staff.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are working to ensure we have the right number of health and social care staff with the skills to deliver high quality care to meet increasing demands. Care homes and home care providers will benefit from a new £162.5 million workforce retention and recruitment fund to bolster the dedicated care workforce.

“We also recently launched our ‘Made with Care’ recruitment campaign to encourage people into a career in care. This follows the announcement of £5.4 billion of additional funding to reform social care over the next three years, including £500 million to support training and career development for the workforce.”

Tags : National Care ForumRecruitment

The author Lee Peart

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