Government drive to recruit thousands of social care staff

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A social care staffing crisis which threatens to leave elderly and vulnerable without the help they need will be tackled with a landmark recruitment campaign, the Government has said.

Ministers have announced plans to fill thousands of vacancies in the adult social care sector to meet the needs of an ageing population.

In Yorkshire and Humber alone there are currently an estimated 7,200 unfilled vacancies and around 55,000 more social care staff will be needed by 2035.

The Government’s Every Day Is Different campaign aims to recruit 110,000 workers in the UK.

Nationally, more than 1.45m people currently work in social care, but an extra 650,000 workers will be needed by 2035, Ministers said.

The campaign comes as the Health Foundation publishes its own report on the NHS workforce, expressing concerns about growing staff shortages.

It said there were “worrying trends” in community care, with a drop in nurses and health visitors in the community. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) campaign aims to promote social care as a career with good progression and professional development. Care Minister Caroline Dinenage said: “Adult social care is too often seen as the ‘Cinderella service’ to our NHS. I’m determined to change this perception, starting with our hardworking social care workforce.”

The staff turnover rate in adult social care is 30.7 per cent, equating to almost 400,000 people leaving care jobs every year.

As of February 2018, the typical hourly rate for a care worker in the independent sector was £7.82 per hour. The national minimum wage for over 25s has since risen by a penny to £7.83.

Age UK welcomed the campaign but said more needs to be done to improve working conditions in the sector. Charity Director Caroline Abrahams said: “A Government-led social care recruitment initiative is warmly welcome and long overdue, but it needs to be coupled with a raft of measures to improve the status, terms and conditions of the job.”

In its report, the Health Foundation said NHS staff numbers are failing to keep pace with demand. While the NHS long-term plan urges more care in the community and less care in hospital, the data shows a struggle to recruit the right mix of staff.

The number of hospital doctors has continued to grow but the number of GPs fell by 1.6 per cent over the year to September 2018.

The NHS reported 100,000 vacancies, of which 41,000 were nursing posts.

Concerns over Brexit have also had an impact, with recruitment from the EU falling significantly.

Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation, said: “We urgently need a coherent strategy that involves Government health departments, the Home Office, regulators and employers, and which is embedded in overall national health workforce planning.”

A separate report has also found that three out of five social care providers have had to close down parts of their work or hand back contracts to councils because of financial pressures.

The charity HFT, formerly the Home Farm Trust, found that one in 10 feared a reduction in quality of care if their financial situation did not improve.

The study, carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), suggested that most providers believed low wages was the biggest barrier to recruiting and retaining staff.