Address workforce crisis to get older people home from hospital this winter, Sajid Javid told

Sajid Javid

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has been urged to take immediate steps to ensure that older people are not forced to remain in hospital longer than medically necessary this winter.

In an open letter to Sajid Javid, the National Care Forum, British Geriatrics Society, Age UK, Independent Age, Care England and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy have called urgent action to address the shortage of care workers to ensure that older people are able to access the care they need when they are discharged.

This includes an immediate bonus and pay rise for staff working in social care and for care workers to be added to the Shortage Occupation List.

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The letter highlights the stories shared through the British Geriatrics Society’s Timely Discharge campaign, illustrating the human impact on large numbers of older people in hospitals across the country who are medically fit for discharge but cannot access the care and rehabilitation they need to return home.

Earlier this month, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, told the Guardian that the NHS beds crisis is now so serious that as many as one in five beds in some hospitals in England are occupied by patients who are medically fit to be discharged.

In most cases that is because there is no care package available to enable them to hospital.

The letter said that by giving care staff a bonus and pay rise and by adding care workers to the Shortage Occupation List, the Secretary of State could bring a halt to the current exodus of care workers, ensuring social care is in place to enable older people to be discharged from hospital.

“This will ensure timely care, support and rehabilitation is provided in the right place, and also help to alleviate pressures in acute care, giving the NHS breathing space to get through the winter months,” the letter continued.

“In the longer term, a sustainable plan for the recruitment, retention and support of the health and social care workforce providing care for older people is urgently needed.”

Vic Rayner, CEO of the National Care Forum commented: “The pressure on people is immense. Shortages in the care workforce mean that people are not able to be in the place they call home and often are spending too long in hospital where they are unable to receive the care they need. There is no time for government to delay. If we fail to take decisive action to address this workforce crisis, then we fail the people and communities that we are all here to serve.”

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said: “Unfortunately, delayed discharges are back with a vengeance at a time when our hospitals are under unprecedented pressure from COVID-19 and treatment backlogs.

“These delays cause misery and distress to older people who cannot get home, and the principal reason for them is beyond dispute: a chronic and apparently growing shortage of care staff available to support older people when they leave hospital.

“The government must get a grip on this situation and at least try and stop the situation from becoming worse, by putting more money into care workers’ pockets now. The other UK nations have already paid retention bonuses to care workers and the government in Westminster should follow suit.”

Tags : hospital dischargesworkforce crisisworkforce shortages
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke