Workforce increasingly identified as reason for deregistration

Ian Trenholm, chief executive, CQC

Workforce issues are increasingly being identified as a reason for deregistration of adult social care services.

Giving evidence to a committee of MPs, Ian Trenholm, Care Quality Commission chief executive, said previously exit surveys and interviews of adult social care providers would identify retirement or time to move on as main reasons for leaving the sector. However, MPs were told workforce was now ‘coming up again and again and again’ as a reason for deregistration.

Trenholm also said workforce was the ‘dominant conversation’ when meeting operators. ‘I’ve been in five or six providers in the last fortnight and workforce has been top of the conversation,’ he told a health and social care committee inquiry.

Also giving evidence was Simon Williams, director of social care improvement at the Local Government Association, who told MPs the workforce was ‘under enormous pressure’ evidenced by a turnover rate of about 28% and vacancy levels of over 10%.

He said evidence pointed to staff feeling ‘exhausted’ and morale being ‘quite low’.

Beyond pay, Williams argued, workforce problems related to recognition, lack of career structure and access to training, with more work needed to convince young people into the sector.

During the session to the inquiry, titled Workforce: recruitment, training and retention in health and social care, Trenholm said if a provider was genuinely struggling, then training was seen as an ‘overhead’ and pushed down the road because of other priorities.

When asked by committee chair Jeremy Hunt, if they supported a portable care certificate for health and care, Williams responded: ‘We completely support having something externally validated, recognised and portable. The one caveat is as long as it doesn’t mean that social care becomes a feeder for the NHS, because that’s the danger of portability. We would like to see people moving in two directions.’

As part of the government’s reforms, £500m will be spent to develop the social care workforce over the next three years to boost the sector’s ability to recruit and retain staff, improve learning and development, and better support mental health and wellbeing.