NHS leaders across the country have warned that the social care workforce crisis and lack of capacity in social care is putting the safety of patients at risk.
An NHS Confederation survey, which received responses from almost 250 NHS leaders, revealed concerns across the health service that patients are being delayed in hospital much longer than they should because of the ongoing social care crisis.
More than nine in 10 NHS leaders warn of a social care workforce crisis in their area which they expect will get worse this winter, according to the poll.
More than four in five warn that the absence of care packages for people to be able to return home or be moved into a care home is the main reason why medically fit patients are stuck in hospital longer than they should be.
Almost all NHS leaders say that the most impactful solution would be better pay for social care staff and want the Government to increase investment in social care as a priority.
Commenting on the survey results Lord Victor Adebowale, chair of the NHS Confederation, said: ‘Decades of delay and inertia have left social care services chronically underfunded and in desperate need of more support.
‘NHS leaders stand alongside their sister services in social care in wanting a rescue package for the sector. They are sounding the alarm and sending a clear message to Government that the social care system has not been “fixed”.’
Cllr David Fothergill, chairman of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Community Wellbeing Board, said: ‘We fully endorse the report’s view that social care is not simply a means of alleviating pressure on the NHS and is instead “critical to the wellbeing of the nation”. The report is right to point out that high vacancy levels across the workforce inevitably impact on social care’s ability to help mitigate the demand facing the NHS – whether that’s supporting people out of hospital or preventing their admission in the first place.
‘We have been calling for higher pay for social care staff for many years, to guarantee workers get properly compensated for the critical work that they do and to retain and encourage more talent into the workforce. Social care certainly does need a “rescue package” to deliver an increase in pay for staff, a long-term workforce plan, increased overall investment in adult social care.
‘Investing in social care now will create long-term saving throughout the NHS as well as the overall public purse, giving patients and people who draw on care better services, treatments and improve the wellbeing of our communities.’