Staffing crisis to hit at ‘worst possible time’
North Yorkshire care providers are bracing themselves for a dreadful winter as a perfect storm of issues hits the care of the county’s most vulnerable.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) today issued a winter warning over the impact a staffing shortage will have on quality and availability of levels of care for the most vulnerable people in our communities.
It says the imposition of the Government’s “no jab, no job” policy is bound to impact upon staffing levels at a time when the sector has a dire shortage.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “For social care across North Yorkshire we can only see a dreadful winter ahead unless we see a social care climate change.
“As we head into winter we know there are at least 1,000 care worker vacancies across the county – which is a figure that places many providers in great difficulty when it comes to maintaining staffing levels.
“The ‘no jab, no job’ policy is bound to add to that at a time when care providers need all the staff they can get.
“Let us not forget that we are still coping with the additional rigours of Covid-19 and a staffing shortage that has been exacerbated by our inability to recruit from overseas due to Brexit.
“Winter places huge extra pressure on NHS care services and on social care services. Then of course providers lose staff to sickness too.
“For many care providers the loss of one or two extra staff due to the vaccination policy could be devastating to their ability to keep providing care. We may well see provider losses and there will certainly be staffing issues – for example there are reports that almost 300 staff left their jobs in Hertfordshire care homes in the weeks before the 11 November deadline.
“We urged the Government to postpone the vaccination policy until spring, as it has for NHS and homecare providers, but that plea fell on deaf ears.”
The ICG welcomed North Yorkshire County Council’s ‘Make Care Matter’ campaign to recruit more carers into the profession across the county.
Mr Padgham added: “Anything that encourages people to join this rewarding and vital profession has to be welcomed.
“The most important thing is that we find a way to improve the pay and conditions of staff and to do that the Government needs to fund local authorities better so that they, in turn, can pay providers a price for care that properly reflects the cost of delivering that care. Then they can reward their staff accordingly.
“At the moment, the county council is doing its best to encourage recruitment, but with one hand tied behind its back.
“Local authorities don’t have the funding to support social care properly across the country and that has the knock-on effect of meaning that providers cannot pay staff what they deserve.
“Social care is a wonderful, rewarding job and many people enjoy and get a great deal of satisfaction from it. But people also have to pay the bills and when you can earn more than £10 working in a supermarket, why would you put yourself under the stress and pressure of delivering care, for less?
“The Government and local authorities need to ensure there is enough funding in social care to ensure care workers can get the pay, conditions and career structure they deserve – then we will see people join this wonderful sector.
“The Government could start by funding a bonus for care staff in England – like those already paid in the rest of the UK and we believe is being considered elsewhere.
“Until then, we are in for a very tough winter indeed and a very difficult future overall.”