The National Care Association (“NCA”) conducted an annual survey in mid-March 2022 which found that 83%, over eight in ten care providers currently have recruitment issues. This is a stark reminder that underlying issues within the Health and Social care sector are still not being addressed in a meaningful or impactful way.
What is causing the recruitment issues?
Health and Social Care providers are currently struggling to pay an attractive living wage to its employees, therefore failing to interest new talent in vacant positions which are on the increase. The cost margins for running a care home are being squeezed and providers are likely to find it difficult to raise wages by significant amounts. This is demonstrated by more than half of respondents to the survey (52%) saying they had received no uplift or less than a 4% uplift in local authority fees in the last year. This is problematic given that this was is a period where providers faced a 6.6% increase in expenditure in line with the changes to the national living wage, and a further 7% increase in the general cost of living (and therefore operating a care service), with a 65-100% sudden spike in energy costs.
Compounding the significant increase in the costs of running a care business, 81% of providers reported that they had not been offered a fee uplift for NHS commissioned beds. A NCA spokesperson said:
“We have been disappointed, once again, by the levels of fee uplifts being offered to providers across the country.”
How long will this impact continue?
The impact of the recruitment and costs issues looks set to continue indefinitely with Nadra Ahmed OBE and Executive Chairman of the NCA saying:
“Our survey shows that providers continue to struggle but deliver against all the odds. The situation is unsustainable in the long term and without a short term plan to invest, a medium and long term promise feels like hollow words.”
However a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson has insisted:
“We recognise the challenges the sector is experiencing in recruiting and retaining staff, and we have put in a range of measures during the winter, including a £462.5 million recruitment fund, expanding the Health and Care Visa scheme and our ‘Made with Care’ recruitment campaign.”
The Government believes this, coupled with £1.36 billion of the ‘Market Sustainability and Fair Cost of Care fund’, will help local authorities to pay a fairer rate to providers, which will in turn, allow them to increase wages and attract sufficient levels of staff in the future. It remains to be seen whether or not local authorities properly apply that extra funding to the benefit of providers and how it will translate in real terms.