Care sector facing 'most acute recruitment and retention crisis' in its history, not-for-profit organisations warn

More than 110,000 vacancies in the care sector are leaving it facing the “most acute recruitment and retention crisis” in its history, not-for-profit organisations have warned. 

The National Care Forum, which represents not-for-profit care providers, and four major care-providing organisations have warned the situation could leave tens of thousands of older people without access to the care they need.

The NCF along with the not-for-profit care providers Anchor Hanover, the Orders of St John Care Trust, MHA Methodist Homes and Sanctuary Group published an open letter to government ministers yesterday asking for immediate support to address “serious staffing shortages”.

An NCF survey of more than 2,000 social care services revealed that 74 per cent of providers have reported an increase in staff exits since April, with half of workers leaving due to stress and 44 per cent finding better pay elsewhere.  

At the same time, staff turnover across the sector is estimated to be in the region of 30 per cent and rising, at a time when more and more people need care services. 

The letter says this came on top of workforce pressures that existed before the pandemic, with 112,000 care staff vacancies across the country and a 33 per cent decline in social care nurses between 2012/13 and today.

It says: “This is the most acute recruitment and retention crisis that we are aware of historically. 

“It is the result of many years of underfunding in the sector, compounded by a number of other factors including some staff exhausted from the pandemic and others moving to the NHS due to different approaches on mandatory vaccine regulations.

“Not only are these workforce issues causing our services to be stretched, they are also preventing organisations like ours from providing essential care to more people who need it.  

“This is inevitably leading to more people having to stay in hospital unnecessarily when they are unable to access care packages and be safely discharged.”

The letter says that while the organisations welcomed the recruitment and retention measures introduced in the government’s social care proposals, they will not solve the current workforce crisis.

It makes a number of recommendations, including offering a retention bonus to care staff, adding care workers to the shortage occupation list for a defined period, and calling for the government to launch a national recruitment campaign.  

The letter ends with a warning that “without the social care workforce we have no care system”.

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