Great Britain
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Social care staffing crisis pushing system to the brink, workers warn

THE social care system is being pushed to the brink by a worsening staffing crisis, workers and providers have warned.

In a joint letter sent today to Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid, public-sector union Unison and the National Care Forum (NCF), which represents more than 150 not-for-profit social care providers, appeal for government intervention to save the sector and to end the “chronic underfunding” behind staffing issues.

They warn that the crisis is of “a magnitude that threatens to overwhelm the sector unless the government steps in.”

Their call comes ahead of the government’s Spending Review next week.

The social care sector was short of 105,000 workers, even before the latest crisis as staff left due to “low wages, burnout and compulsory vaccinations,” Unison said.

In their letter, the union and the NCF say: “Care providers are already having to hand back contracts, turn down new requests for care, at home and in care homes, as a direct result of the acute shortage of workers. 

“The government must act now because social care matters to us all.

“This country cannot afford to lose any more care staff. Please don’t ignore this catastrophe a moment longer.”

Both organisations said that disaster can be averted by “a pay boost for care staff to improve recruitment and reduce the numbers leaving, and a retention bonus for those who have gone above and beyond in the delivery of care during the darkest of times.”

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Care employees have been undervalued and ignored for too long. And the escalating staffing crisis is a consequence of this.

“Without extra government resources, homes will close and domiciliary care will be cut back, meaning those dependent on support will suffer.” 

NCF chief executive officer Vic Rayner said: “The government must act now to ensure those who currently work in the sector feel valued and recognised by providing a retention bonus.

“Alongside this, give a clear call to those contemplating working in care that they will be recognised by increasing pay rates for all who work in care.”

The Department of Health and Social Care was invited to comment.