5,000 pleas for care rejected in six weeks: Home help firms say staff shortages are at critical level and thousands of patients are being turned away every month
- Patients are turned away for vital social care as staff shortages hit ‘acute’ levels
- Home help firms turned down 5,000 requests for help over the past six weeks
- They said crisis caused by ‘low wages, staff burnout, and mandatory vaccination’
Thousands of patients are being turned away for vital social care every month as staff shortages hit ‘acute’ levels, Sajid Javid was warned last night.
The National Care Forum, which represents companies that provide home helps, said firms had turned down nearly 5,000 requests for help over the past six weeks.
It has joined union Unison to demand the Health Secretary takes urgent action to tackle the ‘recruitment and retention emergency’ in the care sector.
They have written a letter warning of a staffing crisis triggered by ‘chronic underfunding leading to low wages, staff burnout, and mandatory vaccination’.
Thousands of patients are turned away for social care as staff shortages hit ‘acute’ levels in a crisis triggered by ‘low wages, staff burnout, and mandatory vaccination’ (stock image)
Shortages are at ‘a magnitude that threaten to overwhelm the sector,’ they say. Both want to see a pay boost to improve recruitment and a retention bonus for those who have ‘gone above and beyond in the delivery of care during the darkest of times’.
They are calling for a funding injection in next week’s Spending Review just to keep services at their current level.
A care home owner and Conservative councillor has broken down in tears over the ‘utter crisis’ in the sector.
Sara Pritchard, who runs Executive Carers, said home helps were ‘exhausted’ and managers ‘suicidal’.
In a Facebook video, the Lichfield city councillor, said: ‘Nobody is helping us and it’s so bad. How can I tell my staff I feel like this when most of them are exhausted? We pay well –£11 an hour – but it isn’t enough. They should be on £15 an hour. Without a shadow of a doubt they should be on more. I know I’m not on my own.
‘I read every day that care managers are resigning, that registered managers feel suicidal, that domiciliary care owners are having to close their businesses or lose their homes because they can’t afford to do this any more, and it’s mentally torturing them.’
Labour’s local government spokesman Steve Reed said that, despite Boris Johnson’s plan to fix social care, it was still in crisis.
There are fears that local authorities will have to put up council tax yet again to plug the gaps, despite Boris Johnson’s social care reforms unveiled last month.
The letter says: ‘Care providers are already having to hand back contracts, turn down new requests for care, at home and in care homes, as a direct result of the acute shortage of workers.
‘The Government must act now because social care matters to us all. This country cannot afford to lose any more care staff.
‘Each and every one of us has a loved one who may well need their skill, support and compassion, or require help themselves eventually. Please don’t ignore this catastrophe a moment longer.’
The letter also urges the Government to scrap or delay mandatory jabs in care homes.
Researchers for NCF and the Outstanding Managers Network found that nearly a fifth of positions are vacant, with backroom staff having to fill in as frontline carers.
More than two-thirds said they were having to stop or limit services. These pressures mean having to turn away patients, including those being discharged from hospital.
One manager said it was ‘heartbreaking turning down ten-plus packages of care that are needed a day’. Another said: ‘Sadly, we have not got enough staff to look after them safely’, while another was ‘seriously considering having to close’.
NCF chief executive officer Vic Rayner said: ‘The Government must act now to ensure those who currently work in the sector feel valued and recognised by providing a retention bonus.’
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said the Government was providing at least £500million to support the care workforce as part of the £5.4billion social care reforms.
He said: ‘We are also working to ensure we have the right number of staff with the skills to deliver high quality care to meet increasing demands.’
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