In a striking reversal of the December 2021 pledge to give £500 million for investment in health and social care workforce development, it has been reported that the Government will be cutting this amount in half. It also seems that plans for integrating housing into care strategies and focusing on supported housing options may also be discarded.
So far, the Department of Health and Social Care (“DHSC”) has not denied these claims and sated that a new plan for adult social care reform will be published soon to set out how progress can be maintained and built on over the next two years.
Currently, there are over 165,000 vacancies in the sector, with the large driving factor being low pay. The CQC has also stated that inadequate staffing levels frequently contribute to lower ratings, making investment into the workforce even more critical.
Providers and councils have been calling for greater investment in recruitment and retention of staff in the health and social care sector, but this seems to be to no avail.
Investment would not only improve the quality of care, but also assist to tackle the NHS backlog by freeing up capacity in care homes for those patients that can be placed in them rather than long stays in hospitals.
Chief Executive of Care England, Martin Green, says that the full £500 million is imperative to kick starting a strategic approach to workface development and that the cut will set the sector back for years to come.
So far, the only response from DHSC has been to state that, “The government remains committed to the 10-year vision set out in the People at the Heart of Care white paper and have made good progress on implementing it, including by boosting workforce capacity, digitisation, improving oversight and enhancing the use of data.”
However, this is unlikely to reassure any provider in the sector knowing that at least half of the funding which was promised to them is likely to be stripped down amidst a staffing crisis.
These are tumultuous times for the wider health and social care sector and the situation appears to only be getting worse amidst the strikes, lack of staff, and failure of the government to take action.