Staff shortages in the NHS and social care pose ‘serious risk’ to both workforce and patients

The NHS and social care face the greatest workforce crisis in their history. This is further compounded by the absence of a credible government strategy to tackle the situation according to MP Jeremy Hunt, who is also Chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee. The persistent understaffing is posing a serious risk to staff and patient safety, affecting both routine and emergency care.

What is causing the staffing crisis?

New research from a report entitled ‘Recruitment and retention in adult social care: A qualitative study’ (“the Report”) published in June 2022, suggested that pay is a crucial factor making recruitment and retention in social care difficult. Social care employers interviewed for the Report said they believed that a key reason for this was increasing competition in recruitment with other sectors such as hospitality and retail. They felt that these sectors were often more appealing, as they were able to offer higher wages for less responsibility and physical strain.

The Government’s own analysis has estimated that more than 17,000 jobs in care are paid below the minimum wage. A separate report by the House of Commons Committee published on 25 June 2022 entitled ‘Expert Panel: evaluation of Government’s commitments in the area of the health and social care workforce in England’ rated the government’s progress to meet the key commitments it has made on workforce as overall, inadequate. Health and Social Care Committee chair Jeremy Hunt said:

“Persistent understaffing in the care sector poses a serious risk to staff and patient safety, a situation compounded by the absence of a long term plan by the government to tackle it. We now face the greatest workforce crisis in history in the NHS and in social care with still no idea of the number of additional doctors, nurses and other professionals we actually need. NHS professionals know there is no silver bullet to solve this problem but we should at least be giving them comfort that a plan is in place. This must be a top priority for the new Prime Minister.”

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