Adult social care sector remains the ‘poor cousin’ to the NHS, says learning disability charity
The adult social care sector remains the poor cousin to the NHS amid the Government’s long-term workforce plan.
This is according to Kirsty Matthews, Chief Executive of the learning disability charity, Hft, who explains: “Today’s landmark plan could be a watershed moment for the NHS. If the plan is fulfilled, it could provide our essential health service with the increased stability and sustainability it so desperately needs to respond to patient need long into the future.
“However, even though the adult social care sector is inextricably linked to the success of the NHS (as is recognised in the plan), our depleted workforce has received little to no attention from the Government,” says Ms Matthews.
The staff vacancy rate in adult social care has risen to the highest rate since records began in 2012/13. According to 2022 figures from Skills for Care, the number of vacancies increased by 52% on the previous year to 165,000 and the vacancy rate in 2021/22 was 10.7%.
“Indeed, our Sector Pulse Check research, conducted in partnership this year with Care England, reveals the detrimental impact of this; as a result of staff shortages, over a half of providers turned down admissions and nearly a fifth closed services.
“Rather than a substantial plan to revitalise and stabilise the adult social care workforce, we instead receive reductions in investment – from the £500m pledged in the 2021 social care white paper, to just £250m announced in April this year.
“It is worrying that the Government still does not understand that the workforce challenges facing our sector have a direct impact on the NHS, with unmet care need contributing to admissions and delayed discharges. Without a plan for adult social care, I am concerned that efforts to support our heath service will fail.
“Our staff, and particularly adults with learning disabilities, deserve more and I urge the Government to step forward with a plan to address the challenges we face, and ensure our workforce stability long into the future.”