Further instability in social care risks turning into a ‘tsunami of unmet need’, the CQC has said.
The stark warning was issued by the CQC with the publication of its annual assessment of the state of health and social care in England.
Ian Trenholm, Chief Executive of CQC, (pictured) said: “It’s going to be a difficult winter. We need to grasp the opportunity to change to avoid a tsunami of unmet need.”
The CQC chief said new models of care were necessary to ensure that people receive the care they need where and when they need it and highlighted Integrated Care Systems (ICS) as a “good vehicle” to take the sector forward.
“We need local leaders to come together to get us through the coming winter to give breathing space for the ICS to start to function over the coming years,” Ian said.
The CQC head highlighted rising staff vacancy rates in social care which have resulted in quality suffering and some providers having to hand back their registrations.
The CQC revealed that residential care vacancy rate had increased month-on-month from 6% in April to 10.2% in September.
Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, Kate Terroni, said there was an “immediate need” to take action in order to retain the social care workforce during the winter along with a long term workforce plan.
She added that funding should be made available and targeted at parts of the country where the system was under the greatest strain.
When asked how close the system to collapse, Kate said there had been no net reduction in beds but occupancy levels lower due to a lack of staff and impacts were beginning to be seen in terms of people not being able to leave hospital in a timely way.
Kate said it was the right time to begin the conversation about a competency based worker register to support the reunification of the health and social care workforce.
Ian added: “If the new Government funding is to have an impact, it needs to be used to do things differently and to develop genuinely collaborative ways of working across all care settings. And staff need to be supported and rewarded. In order to attract and retain the right people to work in adult social care, there must be a sharp focus on developing a clearly defined career pathway – linked to training, supported by consistent investment, and better terms and conditions and pay.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We appreciate the dedication and tireless work of health and social care staff throughout the pandemic. We have provided record levels of investment to support them and will provide £36 billion over the next three years for health and social care across the UK.
“Thanks to a collective national effort we avoided NHS services becoming overwhelmed and are supporting social care with vaccines, testing, infection control, PPE and additional funding such as the £162.5 million to boost the workforce.
“We are working on health and social care reform to ensure we can provide world leading services and are committed to learning lessons from the pandemic with a full public inquiry in the spring.”