Social care sector is ‘experiencing the greatest workforce crisis in its history’

If anyone ever questioned the extent of the crisis in social care, this past few weeks you could not escape the terrifying truth. Two reports from the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee, a report from the Levelling Up Committee, updated workforce data from Skills for Care, plus a survey of NHS Leaders published by the NHS Confederation are all raising the alarm.

The ‘ravaged’ social care sector is experiencing the greatest workforce crisis in its history and this is having a devastating impact on quality of care, NHS waiting times and patient outcomes.

We are hearing from heartbroken care workers who feel they have no choice but to find better paid work elsewhere as the job has become too overwhelming.

The independent evaluation of government policy commissioned by the Health and Social Care Committee finds that the overall response to workforce issues to date has been inadequate.

The Committee chaired by Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP urges the government to increase annual funding for social care by £7 billion a year.

The NHS Confederation insists a £10.50 minimum care worker wage is needed to address the recruitment and retention crisis. But central government remain defiant – no more money.

We know that care workers who remain in the sector are overstretched, working overtime to deliver the complex care that’s needed in their communities. The pressures existed before the pandemic, they were exacerbated at its height, and now they’re worse than ever.

One in three care workers left their job last year

The Commons report paints a picture of a dire situation – one in three care workers left their jobs last year, 95 per cent of care providers are struggling to recruit staff, three quarters of care workers are paid below the Real Living Wage. Worse still, when travel time is taken into account, many home care workers are paid below the national minimum wage.

The government proudly insist they’ve invested £1 billion extra a year in social care without providing a breakdown of how this was spent and still their colleagues in the Commons say it’s not enough.

They have allowed local authorities to raise council tax but overall cuts to their budgets have been calculated at £15 billion over the last ten years. It simply doesn’t add up to an increase. This is gaslighting on an industrial scale.

Social care is a notoriously fragmented system, but for once everyone is in agreement. Without immediate action to fill 165,000 vacancies in social care, the impact will be felt in hospitals and homes across the UK.

Eighty-five per cent of healthcare leaders agreed that the absence of a social care pathway is the primary cause of delayed discharges of medically fit patients, and the latest monthly data tells us that there are 12,400 of these healthy patients stuck in hospital on any given day.

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