Over 1m more health and care staff are needed in the next decade to meet growing demand for care, according to a new report.
The Health Foundation’s REAL Centre report says an extra 488,000 health care staff and up to 627,000 social care staff will be needed to improve services and meet need by 2030/31.
Anita Charlesworth, the Health Foundation’s Director of Research and REAL Centre, said: “If the government doesn’t take action now to invest in the workforce the NHS and social care system are likely to face a decade of increasing staff shortages. 5.6 million people are already waiting for care and the health service desperately needs more staff.
“Workforce shortages are the biggest risk to post pandemic recovery. Despite the more immediate challenges posed by COVID-19, the government must not lose sight of the underlying demand and cost pressures facing the NHS and social care over the long term and the need to plan better to increase the workforce to meet this demand.”
The Health Foundation called for action on several fronts, including investment in training and recruitment domestically and internationally, ensuring staff salaries, terms and conditions were competitive with other work, and offering flexible working, progression and career opportunities.
A Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) spokesperson said: “We are investing record funding in both the NHS and social care to help them recover from the pandemic and to put them on a strong, sustainable footing for the future.”
The DHSC said it was working with local authorities and providers to ensure availability of the right number of staff with the skills to deliver high quality care to meet increasing demands, including running regular national recruitment campaigns and providing councils with access to over £1 billion of additional funding for social care in 2021-22.