Workforce crisis

NHS leaders have warned of a social care workforce crisis which will only worsen this winter, piling pressure on hospital beds.

Nearly all NHS leaders said that lack of capacity in social care is putting the care and safety of patients at risk.

Responding to an NHS Confederation survey of almost 250 leaders, they said there was an urgent need to increase investment in social care and boost the wages of care workers.

One NHS acute trust chair told the survey: “The result of using nearly 20% of our beds for patients who are medically fit but need packages of care to return home is an overcrowded A&E, twelve-hour trolley waits and much delayed ambulance handover times.”

Nine out of 10 NHS leaders said staffing gaps were set to deepen the crisis in social care and they have called for a national care worker minimum wage of £10.50 an hour.

Vic Rayner, CEO of the National Care Forum, said the survey sent a stark message that urgent action was needed and pointed to a Skills for Care report showing there are 165,000 vacancies in the adult social care sector.

“When health care and social care leaders stand side by side to urge the government to increase investment in care services and boost wages for care workers, then it really is time to listen,” she added.