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CORONAVIRUS: Care group calls for urgent legislation to avert staffing crisis

Simon Parker II

An independent group representing the nation’s care providers has called for an urgent change to legislation to provide more staff during the coronavirus crisis.

The group, with the support of Care England, Scottish Care, Fforwm Gofal Cymru (Care Forum Wales) and the Independent Health and Care Providers (IHCP), has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlining the urgent need for more staff to cover the increased demand on their services amidst staff shortages caused by sickness and self‐isolation during the Covid-19 outbreak.

They request a clarification is made in legislation that anyone wishing to work in the provision of care, including the NHS or any form of social care, will be permitted to take up paid employment in the NHS and with social care providers, even if they are currently furloughed in other industries and receiving 80% of their wage.

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They have also asked that furloughed workers receive their 80% payment AND are able to work in care and get paid for this with no penalty, thus allowing the NHS and social care providers to employ such people during the coronavirus pandemic.

Simon Parker (pictured), who is the Founding Partner of SP&P, which is a management consultancy for the care home sector and the Host of The Care Home Show, which is a video podcast for the care home sector, said: “After speaking with care business leaders around the country, it became very clear that there is a fast-approaching workforce crisis that if left unsupported, could have huge implications for the people receiving care and also the service providers ability to support the people that they are caring for.

“Whilst the NHS is doing an incredible job of supporting people with coronavirus and delivering other essential healthcare services, the social care sector is taking immediate action to support the NHS by freeing up hospital beds.

“The knock-on effect on care homes and other care services is that they will require a bigger care workforce to support their additional residents, but this comes at a time when care teams are quickly shrinking because they themselves are having to self-isolate in large numbers due to the virus.”

Simon said that care home businesses he had spoken with were expecting to lose between 30% and 50% of their staff over their coming months, meaning the sector could need an additional 800,000 people to look after the most vulnerable.

“It is because of this that we are calling upon the UK government to support the social care sector by making an amendment that would allow the NHS and social care providers, in homes or in the community, to provide paid employment to staff furloughed from other industries,” he said.

Letter issued to Boris Johnson, Prime Minister:

Monday 30/3/2020

To Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, Matt Hancock

We represent the Nation’s care providers who care and support over 1.2 million vulnerable people across all forms of social care.

We are providing vital services in response to the COVID 19 crisis, supporting the NHS by helping free up hospital beds for those who will be admitted due to the virus as well as caring for those who have contracted it.

We applaud the government’s actions to help the NHS, the social care sector and the wider economy.

However, you will appreciate that staffing has long been a challenge in our sector, and now, more than ever, we need staff to cover the increased demand on our services and cover staff shortages caused by sickness and self‐isolation.

New employees could have been sourced from the industries that are currently closed including retail, hospitality and leisure.  However – the application of furlough and payment of 80% of salary prevents these staff from seeking paid work in the social care sector.

We are writing to request that you clarify in legislation that anyone wishing to work in the provision of care including the NHS or any form of Social Care, will be permitted to take up paid employment in the NHS and with social care providers, even if they are currently furloughed in other industries and receiving 80% of their wage.

Very simply, please allow furloughed workers to receive their 80% payment AND to work in care and get paid for this at no penalty. Please allow the NHS and social care providers to employ such people with no penalty.

This action would have a significant positive impact on our staffing and our ability to maintain the high level of care we currently provide. It would help us support our existing workforce’s health and wellbeing and provide cover for the inevitable loss of staff to sickness and self‐isolation.

Our teams are doing an incredible job under extreme pressure and putting themselves at risk everyday – we want to do everything we can to support them.

Yours sincerely, the Social Care Sector

 

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The author Lee Peart

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