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Staffing crisis to ‘overwhelm care sector’ unless government steps in, Sajid Javid told

Sajid Javid

Trade union Unison and the National Care Forum (NCF) have written to Sajid Javid today, calling for urgent action over the staffing crisis engulfing the care sector.    

The joint letter warns the health and social care secretary that “recruitment and retention emergency” has been triggered by “chronic underfunding leading to low wages, staff burnout, and mandatory vaccination”.    

It comes ahead of the government’s spending review next week, and amid warnings that social care desperately needs an injection of cash ​so care providers ​can maintain existing levels of service.  

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Unison – the largest union representing employees in social care – and the NCF, the organisation representing not-for-profit care providers, say social care is gripped by a staffing crisis of “a magnitude that threatens to overwhelm the sector” unless the government steps in.  

The letter goes on: “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 news comes on the back of a new survey, published by the NCF yesterday, which found that acute staff shortages are forcing managers of community services to turn down new clients.

Some 67% of the 340 registered managers surveyed reported that they have either limited or stopped admissions of any new people into care homes or they have had to refuse to take on new requests for domiciliary care.

Meanwhile, some managers have had to hand back packages of care to the local authority because they do not have enough staff to provide them. This includes 33% who said they had limited or stopped admissions from hospitals.   

Both Unison and the NCF say what’s needed to “avert a disaster” is a pay boost for care staff to improve recruitment and reduce the numbers leaving​, and a retention bonus for those who have “gone above and beyond in the delivery of care during the darkest of times”.  

​Both organisations are also calling on the government to scrap – or delay at the very least – the implementation of mandatory jabs in care homes in England.  

In addition, they ​want to see a new dedicated workforce fund ​to support the wellbeing of existing staff, highlight how valuable they are and persuade them to stay in their social care jobs. 

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “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. 

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

NCF chief executive officer Vic Rayner said: “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.” 

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We appreciate the dedication and tireless efforts of care workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. We are providing at least £500 million to support the care workforce as part of the £5.4 billion to reform social care.

“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 £1 billion of additional funding for social care this year.”

Tags : Sajid Javidstaff shortages
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke