Carer shortage threatening NHS as providers forced to limit services

·2 min read
  (PA Archive)
(PA Archive)

A fifth of carer posts are vacant and the majority of providers are having to limit services because of staff shortages, according to research published on Wednesday.

The National Care Forum (NCF) and Outstanding Managers Network questioned 340 managers, who oversee some 21,000 carers, and said their answers highlight the "stark reality" facing the sector.

The research found nearly a fifth of job posts are vacant, while two thirds of care providers had either stopped or limited services and some were forced to hand contracts back to local councils.

Record numbers of patients are stuck in hospital because of the crisis and NHS chiefs have said bed-blocking is the most challenging issue facing the health service this winter

Vic Rayner, CEO of the NCF, said: “These findings make uncomfortable reading and offer evidence of the stark reality being experienced by care providers and registered managers on the ground.

"The significance of this data means that people are not being discharged from hospital when they need to, to continue care and treatment at home or in residential care settings.

"And providers are having to make very difficult decisions about who they can support – sometimes resulting in people with high or complex needs not getting access to the care and support they desperately need. This cannot continue – it has to stop now."

According to the report 67 per cent of managers, who are in charge of the care of more than 15,000 people, have either limited or stopped admissions of any new people into care homes or had to refuse to take on new requests for domiciliary care for people living in their own homes.

Some said they had been forced to hand back packages of care to councils because they do not have enough staff to provide them and 33 per cent said they had limited or stopped admissions from hospitals.

Health secretary Sajid Javid has refused to delay the requirement for care staff to be fully vaccinated by November 11, despite claims that it will result in thousands more workers quitting the sector.

The Government has promised at least £500million to support the sector's workforce and train new carers as part of the £5.4billion to reform the sector between 2022-23 and 2024-25

It comes as research found a fifth of unpaid carers with jobs fear they will have to reduce their working hours or quit altogether if they cannot access affordable and accessible care.

A shortage in services is putting the health, wellbeing and livelihoods of unpaid carers at risk, according to research by Carers UK.

Helen Walker, Carers UK chief executive, said the Government must invest in unpaid carers in the autumn spending review or the country risks "sleepwalking into a new social care crisis".

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