The National Care Forum (NCF) has called on the government to provide “immediate support” to address staffing shortages in the social care sector.
A joint letter to the Home Secretary, Secretary of State for Health & Social Care and Chancellor of the Exchequer said the sector was in the midst of its “most acute recruitment and retention crisis” due to underfunding, staff exhaustion from COVID and mandatory vaccination.
Staff turnover is currently estimated at around 30% and rising with a recent survey of more than 2,000 social care services by the National Care Forum (NCF) showing 74% of providers had seen an increase in staff exits since April 2021 with 50% of workers leaving due to stress and 44% finding better pay elsewhere.
This is combined with serious workforce pressures pre-pandemic, with 112,000 care staff vacancies across the country and a 33% decline in social care nurses between 2012/13 and today.
The letter calls on the government to take the following measures:
offer a retention bonus to care staff, in recognition of the dedication these skilled workers have shown throughout the pandemic;
add care workers to the shortage occupation list for a defined period, to enable more workers from overseas to work in UK care homes with Skilled Worker visas;
create a wholly flexible Workforce Capacity Fund now to support immediate recruitment & retention challenges & upskilling/ training;
launch an effective national recruitment campaign to inspire people to join the care workforce; and
extend the Infection Control Fund (ICF) to offer practical support to care providers as essential work to combat COVID-19 continues.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are hugely grateful for the dedication and hard work of adult social care staff, especially during the pandemic.
“On top of giving councils over £1 billion extra funding for social care in 2021-22, we will provide £5.4 billion to reform social care, of which at least £500 million will support the development and wellbeing of the care workforce.
“We continue to work with local authorities and providers to ensure we have the right number of staff to deliver high quality care and meet increasing demand, including by running national recruitment campaigns.”