BLOCKING overseas workers from coming to the UK to provide care would be a disaster for our ability to look after older and vulnerable people, providers warned today.
They warn that harming social care delivery would have a devastating knock-on effect on NHS healthcare.
And they have called for those putting forward the idea to come and do a shift in a care or nursing home themselves.
The New Conservatives Group wants to stop overseas workers taking up social care posts – even though there are 165,000 vacancies in the sector.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) says such a move would be a disaster and many care and nursing homes would not be able to provide care if overseas workers were stopped.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said:
“This really is a ridiculous suggestion and one which has been put forward without thinking of the consequences.
“Care providers fought long and hard to get access to visas so that overseas workers could come and help us ease the 165,000 care workers shortage we are suffering.
“It would be an absolute disaster if that was now stopped and many care and nursing homes, including my own, would struggle to fill our shifts and the care of the most vulnerable would suffer.
“At the same time, the impact on the NHS would also be horrendous. NHS care delivery is already being hampered by a lack of available social care. If this went ahead the NHS would seize up too.
“If those suggesting this think that we can manage without overseas staff, maybe they should think about rolling up their sleeves and coming to do a shift in one of our homes – they might think again then.”
The ICG says long standing underfunding of the sector, compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, has left the sector in its worst ever staffing crisis.
Providers fought to get the Government to allow care workers to get visas to come to the country to try to alleviate the crisis, which is threatening the delivery of care.
“Social care provision is on its knees,” Mr Padgham added. “The last thing we need is someone cutting the lifeline of overseas workers that we have been thrown.
“Long term, we have to find a way to get more people – from this country and from overseas – into the social care sector and that should be the Government’s real priority not hampering us from functioning today.
“They need to reform social care and give the sector parity with the NHS. They must properly fund the delivery of care so that we can give social care workers the pay, terms and conditions they deserve and that match those of their counterparts at the NHS.
“Then we might see a reduction in the 165,000 workforce shortage that is threatening proper, safe care delivery.
“Until the Government wakes up and delivers on that long overdue promise, we will need all the help we can get to keep providing care and not unwanted interference.”