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Safety of care services ‘at risk’ as recruitment crisis worsens, managers tell Jeremy Hunt

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An open letter, written on behalf of 5,700 social care managers, has called for urgent government reform as ongoing staff shortages begin to pose a major risk to the safety and sustainability of services.

The letter, penned by the Outstanding Manger Network and addressed to Jeremy Hunt (pictured), chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, warns that the recruitment crisis, made worse by the pandemic, has led to concerns from some providers that they are not operating at safe levels to carry out even the most basic care.

Signatories Jane Brightman and Judith Vernalls, said: “Following eighteen incredibly difficult months many of us are finding our positions extremely challenging and are genuinely concerned about the safety and sustainability of services.

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“There is an acute recruitment crisis, which is harder than it has ever been before. This is shortly about to be made significantly worse with the mandatory vaccines, many care providers are estimating between 10-20% of staff being dismissed as a result. There is no support from the government or the regulators to help providers to navigate this.”

The Outstanding Manager Network highlighted that the government’s response to the workforce burnout and resilience inquiry, published by the Select Committee in June, is now overdue.

“You will also know, following the workforce burnout and resilience enquiry, that the people working in social care are exhausted and highly stressed. This extends to managers, who we are now seeing leaving the sector in large numbers. Due to the lack of suitable staff, existing workers are having to pick up many additional hours and this has not eased with the relaxing of Covid restrictions. There has been no relaxing for social care, and it is untenable,” the letter states.

“We feel strongly that things have become worse [since the inquiry], with no signs of improvement. Due to the lack of suitable staff, existing workers are having to pick up many additional hours and this has not eased with the relaxing of Covid restrictions. There has been no relaxing for social care, and it is untenable.”

The letter warned that care homes are still struggling to find the right balance between opening up for relatives and friends to visit while remaining safe and maintaining infection control.

“Many care homes still find themselves going into ‘outbreak’ which means that residents are then confined to their bedrooms for days. In some cases this is happening back to back, placing significant distress on people drawing on social care, many of whom are reaching the end of their lives. It has also caused an angry rift between families and providers which we fear will take years to mend,” the signatories said.

The Outstanding Manager Network explained that some care workers were expected to pick up clinical tasks during the pandemic, but with little or no training or support, and much of this is continuing.

“With serious staff shortages some care providers are concerned that they are not even operating at safe levels to do just the basic care. Some home care providers are handing contracts back to local authorities because they simply cannot find the workforce to deliver them,” the letter said.

The network also highlighted the need for additional funding and fair pay.

“Many providers have operated at a loss during the pandemic and again, this is not easing. They are having to pay staff increased wages to cover shifts, or pay high agency costs. It should also be noted that our care workers, who carry out an incredibly hard job, have not been recognised either within their pay or through parity of esteem,” the letter continues.

“This is a sad indictment, and it did not go unnoticed in England that there has been no Government bonus for care staff as in Scotland and Wales.”

Tags : Jeremy HuntRecruitmentstaff shortages
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke

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