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MPs warn of ‘emergency level’ of NHS and social care workforce burnout

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MPs have warned that NHS and social care workforce burnout has reached an “emergency level” and threatens the future functioning of both services.

In a new report, the Health and Social Care Committee warned only a total overhaul of workforce planning can provide a solution to the crisis.

The Committee said that while COVID-19 has had a huge impact on workforce pressures, shortages prior to the pandemic have been the biggest driver of burnout.

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Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Chair of Health and Social Care Committee, said: “Workforce burnout across the NHS and care systems now presents an extraordinarily dangerous risk to the future functioning of both services.

“An absence of proper, detailed workforce planning has contributed to this, and was exposed by the pandemic with its many demands on staff. However, staff shortages existed long before COVID-19.”

“Staff face unacceptable pressure with chronic excessive workload identified as a key driver of workforce burnout. It will simply not be possible to address the backlog caused by the pandemic unless these issues are addressed.”

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea, said: “NHS and social care staff are at breaking point. The pandemic’s taken a serious toll on their mental health, and there’s no let-up in sight.

“High vacancy rates mean many are struggling with excessive workloads. Yet the government’s failed to address this staffing crisis. 

“The Prime Minister must act now to award a pay rise that allows the NHS to attract new people and stops the exodus of existing staff. A complete overhaul of wages is also vital in social care. This must include the introduction of proper sick pay.”

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, said: “We want to work with the Prime Minister to ensure that his promise to reform social care is delivered upon and carries the views and experiences of those at the front line.  Money alone is not the answer, we need to ensure that social care is established as a career with the kudos associated with due professionalisation and one way to deliver that would be a ten year plan for workforce akin to that of the NHS.

“As we made clear in our written submission and oral evidence, health and social care are two sides of the same coin. It is therefore essential that the adult social care workforce has the same access to resources as colleagues in the NHS.  Maintaining the financial sustainability of social care providers is of fundamental importance in maintaining the capacity of the integrated health and care system and the resilience of the adult social care workforce.”

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Sam Lewis

The author Sam Lewis