The Health and Social Care Committee’s new report on workforce is nothing we didn’t know already

Dementia Care
August 19, 2022

Barry Price, QCS specialist, unpicks the new workforce, recruitment training and retention in health and social care report and spots one major thing the new PM should act upon.

Sadly, the latest in a series of reports from Health and Social Care bodies telling us what we already know about our workforce increases my frustration. We have a system that is fundamentally broken because of a systemic failure of government to act and bring forward a long-term solution.

It comes at a time as further demands and pressures are piled on providers including:

For me, the sea of demands and pressures being levied on providers and more importantly managers, risks a further exodus from the sector of these key people.

Without real solutions to support “Workforce, Recruitment, Training and Retention” within social care then this Health and Social Care Committee report will have achieved nothing.

Summer of strike action will impact on social care

We are now heading into a summer of chaos with train and transport staff striking, nurses, NHS staff and civil servants either striking or fighting for a better pay deal. Strikes will also impact staff in social care on top of the cost-of-living crisis.

Surely the government must realise that if these sectors receive increases (I am not saying here they do not deserve them) then the pressure on social care will increase, as wages outside of social care rise, which makes other and arguably ‘easier’ work much more enticing.

The report states: ‘witnesses to this inquiry left us in no doubt that pay is a crucial factor in recruitment and retention in social care. Social care providers are consistently being outbid by the retail and hospitality sector’ so any increase elsewhere must also be reflected into social care, right?

The report also believes that: ‘time allocated for travel and care must be clearly set out in the contracts of domiciliary care workers.’ I fully agree with this, but to achieve this the culture of lowest bid wins for contracts and cost cutting being forced on local authority funders needs to be addressed.

When it comes to training the report says the government should introduce an externally validated care certificate, which is transferable between social care providers and between social care and the NHS. Hopefully, you will not hear any provider disagree with this. However, this should be fully funded centrally without providers having to scrape through funds and ration these qualifications. We could go further and ensure all social care training is accredited, transferable, and a consistent level of training provided to staff. This does not mean inductions and in-house training isn’t required, but the standard elements could be.

The section relating to the little-known Framework 15 which stems back to 2014 and covers trends, numbers needed, skills and more to deliver high-quality health and social care. A pending 2022 version is still not visible on the horizon and only emphasises how little regard is given to social care by those who hold the key to solving the issue.

The workforce report, if it was a hard copy – and not a PDF on my screen – would have been thrown across the room so many times, as the obvious is stated repeatedly. But there is one part of the report that really stood out and I do hope that the government and the new Prime Minster, with a new cabinet and fresh approach takes these words and acts upon them.

‘The work that social carers do is essential to the lives of those who are cared for, and to their families. It is vital that they are treated by the Government and by wider society with the same respect as their NHS colleagues. It is not until parity of esteem between the NHS and social care is achieved that recruitment and retention in the social care sector will improve.’

We all see and read things differently and I am sure if you have time to read the full 79-page report, we will agree on at least one thing. We are as a nation running out of time to save our social care system without a government that is serious and focused on that long term solution. It really is time to level up social care once and for all.

Further Information

UK Parliament – Workforce: recruitment training and retention in health and social care

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