The National Care Forum (NCF) have submitted a response to the Health and Social Care Select Committee inquiry into the health and care workforce. The inquiry is seeking evidence to ascertain the reasons behind staff leaving the health and care sectors and how to tackle them, in addition to exploring workforce recruitment and training.
Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of the NCF said: “For months now, the National Care Forum has been warning of a staffing crisis in social care as reported by our members. Providers responding to our most recent survey in January 2022 reported evidence of a deteriorating situation, with 18% vacancy rate and a further 14% absence because of the Omicron variant.
“This data is backed up by ADASS’s winter contingency survey which has found that 49 local authorities are now rationing the care services they commission or taking a number of other exceptional measures, due to staffing shortages.
“This crisis has not been created by Omicron, rather the pandemic has exacerbated pressures caused by chronic underfunding and a lack of workforce planning that were years in the making.
Ultimately, a workforce crisis in social care puts strain on the wider health and social care system, as well as other parts of the public sector. It is a sign of system-wide failure.
A joined up approach to the health and care workforce is essential and the government needs to take action on that now and ensure future commitment to it by including this in the Health & Social Care Bill currently going through Parliament ”
Among some of the recommendations in its submission, the NCF is asking for:
- Immediate action to improve the pay and recognition of the workforce, including a loyalty bonus for current care staff.
- Better learning & development opportunities, developing clearly defined pathways and training, supported by consistent investment that will enable employers to attract and retain the right people.
- Making the Care Certificate mandatory, accredited and fully portable.
- A fully funded People Plan for Social Care
- Joined up approaches by ICS, LAs & CCGs and providers to the international recruitment of health and care staff now,
- Upskilling the workforce with digital skills and competencies
- Transforming the way that that future health and care professionals are trained
- Action now on the Health & Social Care Bill to require the government to report on workforce planning for both the health and social care workforce
Rayner continues: “It is clear from the data in recent reports and from the daily experience across the care sector that this is not a workforce that is recognised or valued for the amazing contribution it makes to millions of peoples’ lives each and every day.
“Social care is an integral part of the overall health and care system and better pay is essential to solving the recruitment and retention problems in social care.
“It is absolutely clear that the ability of social care providers as employers to increase the amount they pay their staff is hugely dependent on the income they generate from the services they provide. If the price that the state pays remains significantly below the true cost of providing those care and support services, this inevitably constrains the ability of social care providers to offer better pay to their staff.
“We strongly advocate strengthening the Government’s reform plans to ensure that the balance of care provision is redirected towards the not-for-profit sector. This will make sure that all of the funding from either government or citizens is directed towards the delivery of care now and in the future, ensuring that the funding remains in communities and is reinvested to improve the quality of care, and importantly, the quality of pay, reward and conditions for the workforce.
“This inquiry should not focus on the NHS to the exclusion of social care – the inquiry must make space for consideration of develop the future army of care staff that the country is going to need and the understanding that these roles are skilled roles that need to be recognised, supported and developed for future need. We need a system-wide approach to planning and delivering staffing levels.”