The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said there is a ‘tsunami of unmet care needs’ due to staff shortages
Exhausted care workers are leaving the profession for better-paid jobs in retail, hospitality and tourism, a watchdog has warned.
An annual report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has painted a bleak picture of a healthcare system on the brink of collapse as we head into one of ‘the most challenging of winters’.
The regulator said there is a ‘tsunami of unmet care needs’ due to staff shortages.
One in ten essential jobs in care homes is now vacant – nearly twice the level of six months ago.
Some nursing homes are having to shut because their ‘attempts at recruitment have failed’, making it ‘untenable to continue providing care’.
The CQC said the sector is under increasing strain, its workforce is exhausted, and care homes that are struggling to fill posts are even having to turn away new patients.
Chief executive, Ian Trenholm, said NHS and care staff ‘cannot be expected to work any harder than they already are if we’re to get safely through this winter’.
‘What we’re seeing is many services are at capacity, and in many cases beyond capacity, and problems that traditionally could have been diverted can no longer be diverted,’ he said.
He said emergency funding was vital as hospitals could not discharge patients without social care to support them.
And he warned the impact will ripple across the wider system if nothing is done, adding: ‘Those ripples will build into a tsunami of unmet need in all sectors.’
It is feared there will be even more vacancies to fill when unvaccinated care workers are forced to leave their jobs by November 11.
Mr Trenholm told Sky News not only will they enforce this policy, but they have to to prosecute providers that do not comply.
However, vaccination rates are soaring among care home staff. Workers who have turned to retail and hospitality say the job is less stressful and salaries are higher.
The CQC report, based on inspections of more than 32,000 services and providers, looked at all aspects of healthcare.
It called for ‘sharp focus on developing a clearly defined career pathway for social care staff’, including better training and higher pay.
In some parts of the country, care companies are closing their doors due to nursing shortages, leaving patients to find new homes, while some are stuck in hospitals unable to leave because care services are not available.
The dire picture stands in contrast to assurances from the government that the system can cope.
Boris Johnson has resisted calls to trigger ‘Plan B’ of the government’s winter strategy, despite soaring cases. .
Care workers are leaving their jobs for better paid roles in retail and hospitality (Picture: Reuters)
Yesterday the number of daily coronavirus infections hit 50,000 for the first time since the end of lockdown.
But ministers have dismissed concerns the NHS is facing unsustainable pressure, saying the backup strategy will only be enacted at this point.
The Department of Health last night announced a new £162.5million workforce retention and recruitment fund to bolster the care workforce.
Local authorities will be able to apply for cash, based on their level of need, to recruit staff and retain existing members through overtime payments.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he wanted to ‘repay’ social workers for their sacrifice during the pandemic ‘through ambitious, sustainable social care reform that prioritises their skills and wellbeing’.
But Cathie Williams, chief executive of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass), said it does not go far enough.
She said: ‘In the run-up to what promises to be an incredibly difficult winter, it is important to know that we set out to Government the need for an additional £1.5 billion to stabilise the supply of care and support, including the essential workforce, and £1.5 billion to support unpaid carers.
‘This additional funding is very welcome, but it is not sufficient and equates to around £100 per care worker.’
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