Organisations urge government to act over ‘staffing crisis’

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The National Care Forum (NCF) and Unison have written to the health and social care secretary calling for action over the staffing crisis in the care sector.  

In the letter to Sajid Javid they say the ‘recruitment and retention emergency’ has been triggered by ‘chronic underfunding leading to low wages, staff burnout, and mandatory vaccination’.

As reported yesterday (20 October), two-thirds of registered managers have either limited or stopped admissions of any new people into care homes or refused to take on requests for domiciliary support because of staff shortages.

The letter says: ‘Care providers are already having to hand back contracts, turn down new requests for care, at home and in care homes, as a direct result of the acute shortage of workers. The government must act now because social care matters to us all.

‘This country cannot afford to lose any more care staff. Each and every one of us has a loved one who may well need their skill, support and compassion, or require help themselves eventually. Please don’t ignore this catastrophe a moment longer.’

The two organisations are calling for a pay increase for care staff to help improve recruitment and reduce the numbers leaving, and a retention bonus for those who have worked during the pandemic. They are also calling on the government to scrap – or delay – the implementation of mandatory jabs in care homes in England, which is set for 11 November.

‘Care employees have been undervalued and ignored for too long. And the escalating staffing crisis is a consequence of this. It’s high time for a decent wage boost for all care workers,’ said Unison general secretary Christina McAnea.

‘There’s been much talk but not nearly enough action on funding social care. Without extra government resources, homes will close and domiciliary care be cut back meaning those dependent on support will suffer.’

NCF chief executive officer Vic Rayner added: ‘The government must act now to ensure those who currently work in the sector feel valued and recognised by providing a retention bonus alongside this give a clear call to those contemplating working in care that they will be recognised by increasing pay rates for all who work in care.’

As part of its initial £5.4bn proposals to reform social care, the government plans to invest £500m for professionalising and developing the workforce, funding mental health wellbeing and improving recruitment.

The Department of Health and Social Care added: ‘We are also working to ensure we have the right number of staff with the skills to deliver high quality care to meet increasing demands. This includes running regular national recruitment campaigns and providing councils with over £1bn of additional funding for social care this year.’