NHS leaders are calling on the Government to immediately implement a national social care worker minimum wage of £10.50 an hour in England.
The NHS Confederation, on behalf of healthcare leaders, has written to the Prime Minister, warning that their social care counterparts simply do not have “the financial headroom…to respond to the labour market pressures they are facing.”
Widening gap in pay between NHS and social care
At a time when many people are facing a cost of living crisis, it warns of the real risk that the more competitive levels of pay offered by the NHS for similar roles could see an ever-widening gulf in pay between health and social care.
Many social care workers are also leaving the sector for higher paid jobs in other industries and the sector is still reeling from the impact of the mandatory COVID-19 initiative, which was implemented and then withdrawn by Government, but resulted in many people leaving the sector.
Care workers paid less than retail workers
The body believes, without an increase, the social care sector in England would lose any remaining competitive edge and continue to lose staff. It points out that wages saw social care workers paid around 21p less than those working in supermarkets. Ten years ago, care workers were paid 13p more.
Both Scotland and Wales have already introduced minimum wages near or well above £10 an hour, it said.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “Healthcare leaders are sounding the alarm and sending a clear message to Government that unless social care workers are paid a national care worker minimum wage, there is at real risk of irreparable damage to the sector.”
“We urgently need the Government to take decisive action to fully fund this minimum wage increase which should be distributed through local authorities, to ensure funding reaches the front line, does not impact self-funders’ cost of care, and alleviates these severe staffing challenges.”
“Without this life jacket, both the NHS and social care could face an endless winter of people being failed by the very systems that should be there to support them at their most vulnerable.”