Fears that providers will run out of staff
WORRIED care providers today repeated an urgent plea for an army of volunteers to be set up to tackle a growing staff crisis in the sector.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) fears the shortage – fuelled by rapidly rising cases of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant – will leave providers unable to provide care.
Its chair, Mike Padgham, has written to the Health Secretary for a second time, appealing to him to tackle the social care staffing crisis.
He has called for the Government to set up an emergency arms of volunteers to step in and help in care settings.
“I wrote in August and I am writing again now as the situation is becoming desperate,” Mr Padgham said.
“Every day we are hearing from the operators of nursing and care homes and from homecare providers who cannot operate properly because they are so short of staff.
“Before Covid-19 the sector had around 120,000 care staff vacancies. After the upheaval of Brexit, the compulsory ‘no jab, no job’ and escalating cases of Covid-19, we are on our knees and we need help before we have to start rationing care.”
In his letter to the Health Secretary Mr Padgham says:
‘Since I previously wrote to you, in August last year, the situation has worsened considerably to the point where care providers are increasingly unable to provide care for our most vulnerable.
I want to repeat my plea to you to consider setting up an emergency task force to step in to avoid situations where care simply stops being delivered.
The staffing situation is now at the worst it has been throughout the pandemic and I can only see it getting worse.
The rapid spread of the omicron variant means more and more nursing home, care home and homecare staff are contracting Covid-19 and having to be off work and self-isolate. This is leaving those care providers chronically short of staff at a time when they most need to be fully staffed.
As you know, we need a fully functioning social care sector to ensure that NHS hospital care can function effectively and not be overwhelmed because people cannot be discharged to care settings.
At the moment that cannot be guaranteed and I fear the setting up of surge hubs is not a long-term solution as they too will be struggling for staff.
I repeat my belief that we need the Government to quickly establish a volunteer task force to ease the crisis and ensure we can get through the winter.
This would draw upon retired nurses, doctors, and carers, to help out. This would need to be done quickly so that they can be DBS checked and trained before winter pushes us beyond tipping point.’
Mr Padgham said: “After I wrote in August, it took four months to receive a reply and little has been done to properly tackle the staffing crisis.
“Care providers cannot go on as they are or the amount and the standard of care are going to be under threat and compromised.
“The idea of a volunteer army for care – similar to that being set up to support the NHS – is a serious one and one that must be implemented immediately, before it is too late.”