RCN urges government to tackle health and social care nursing crisis


A Royal College of Nursing report has called on the government to take urgent action to tackle the workforce crisis in health and social care.

The 10 Unsustainable Pressures on the Health and Care System in England report highlights high absence levels, turnover and vacancies in social care and calls on Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid to be made accountable for planning and supply of the workforce.

RCN Director for England, Patricia Marquis, said: “They [the government] have known for a long time just how the pressures have been growing and they can see the risk to patient care every single day in every part of health and care.

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“This was coming long before the pandemic and is a direct consequence of a long-term failure to invest in the nursing workforce.

“The government must wake up to the reality and provide the investment that is needed to ensure patient care is not damaged any further.”

The report shows the number of jobs in social care fell by a third between 2012/13 and 2020/21 with numbers declining by 1,800, or 5%, between 2019/2020 and 2020/21.

Sickness days taken by nurses in social care doubled during the pandemic from around 4 in 2019/20 to 7.7 in 2020/21 with the report noting that nursing teams are often smaller than in the NHS meaning that absences have an even greater impact. Staff are also more likely to have access only to statutory sick pay as opposed to occupational rates offered in the NHS, which may contribute to high vacancies and turnover.

Registered nurses had the highest turnover rates of any job role in social at 38.2% compared with 8.8% in the NHS as of March 2021.

The report calls on the government to increase the supply of registered nurses to put the health and care system and the nursing profession on a sustainable footing.

It says the government must begin with a legal duty for the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, to assess projected demand-led health and care workforce requirements based on population need, for the short, medium, and long term. The report adds the Secretary of State must be accountable for the planning and supply of the workforce with both duties to be included in the Health and Care Bill.

Additionally, the RCN says the Budget must provide for a fully funded health and care workforce strategy to ensure there are enough staff to meet current and future population need.

It also calls on the government to bring forward reforms to put social care on a sustainable footing, including funding to ensure that pay, terms and conditions for nurses working in social care are at least on par with the NHS.

Tags : LegislationNursingRecruitmentRoyal College of Nursing

The author Lee Peart

1 Comment

  1. I’m not trying to cause an argument. It’s just that we’ve already tried this method before. I keep seeing similar headlines, but it never changes anything. If I’m being completely honest, the care home sector isn’t really that appealing to young students. They are always talking about how they don’t quite fancy cleaning any old people’s bottoms after they use the toilet, etc, so I’m not sure where extra people are going to be hired from. This is the reality of care sector work. I’m almost forty years old. Just yesterday, I heard two care workers telling each other how they don’t want to really be working here. Not that I’m basing this opinion on those two care workers alone. Just that the much younger generations would rather work in beauty and hairdressing and such. Plus one of the care workers,yesterday, said to the other one she was with “I can’t be arsed making conversation with these loser residents. I think I’ll make an excuse to take the rest of the day off. Just pretend that I’m not well”. The fact that she said it really loud infront of me. I wasn’t sure how to respond. This is just something I’ve begun to realize over time, as I have quite a bit of experience being in the care sector.

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