The Health and Social Care Select Committee has published two reports which highlight the stark situation in the health and social care workforce:
An evaluation of the government’s commitments and a report on recruitment, training and retention in health and social care.
The Committee’s findings and recommendations chime with what the National Care Forum (NCF) has been saying for some time.
The first report makes it clear that the government has not met its manifesto commitments in relation to building the social care workforce, rating the government inadequate across the board. The second report finds that adult social care and the NHS face the greatest workforce crisis in their history, compounded by the absence of a credible workforce strategy to tackle the situation.
There are a number of welcome recommendations, including:
• The need for the government to carry out transparent and independently audited reports on workforce projections for social care, public health and health for the next 5, 10 and 20 years.
• NHS England must undertake a review of pay in their social care jobs. In the review, NHS health and social care roles must be compared based on the skills, competencies, and levels of responsibility shown in various roles in each sector to ensure that social care roles are being paid fairly.
• Annual funding for social care should be increased by £7 billion by 2023–24.
• The government must ensure that the cost of care is calculated on the basis of paying care workers the same rate as equivalent NHS roles: Band 3 on Agenda for Change.
• The government must fund Skills for Care to pilot the Social Care Workplace Racial Equality Standard in the independent sector within 12 months.
• The government must commit to restoring social care staff free access to the same NHS training as community health colleagues by July 2023.
• By 2023, the government must introduce a new, mandatory Care Certificate which is i) subject to a formal assessment process, ii) externally offered and accredited, iii) offered at no cost to providers, and iv) portable between social care providers and between social care and the NHS.
• New regulations should be introduced by 2023 in which care workers initially employed on zero-hours contracts must be offered a choice of contract after three months of employment.
• Social care workers should be designated as key workers on the same basis as public sector employees so they can access affordable rented housing from local authorities and registered providers.
• The government must pass recruitment and retention funds directly to providers to be invested in local recruitment campaigns.
• The government should report on how many care workers have been issued with Health and Care Worker visas since the scheme was launched.
Professor Vic Rayner OBE, CEO NCF said:
“Following on the heels of the revelation of 165,000 vacancies in the adult social care sector by Skills for Care last week, the Health and Social Care Select Committee reports are timely but make challenging reading.
“NCF continues to work constructively with the government on its reform agenda but as these reports make clear, the scale of the challenge clearly requires immediate urgent action. In particular, we need a more concerted and meaningful attempt to create a dedicated and fully funded social care workforce plan alongside better pay, terms and conditions – their absence from the government’s reform agenda is the elephant in the room. The reports outline the very real human pressures this is causing, both on the people working in social care and the people they support – action is needed now.
“We also note that a few of the Committee’s recommendations are similar to the recommendations of the Social Care Taskforce Workforce Advisory Group in August 2020, of which NCF was a part. Whoever wins the Conservative leadership contest must face up to the challenge of workforce planning and pay in social care, otherwise we will see further reports with the same recommendations, and a continued failure to harness the economic and social value that can be unleashed from communities by adult social care.”