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NHS Providers calls for £500 bonus to retain, recruit care home staff

Social care staff in England should be offered a recruitment or retention bonus of at least £500 ahead of the “most difficult winter ever” for the health service, according to NHS Providers.

The organisation that represents hospital, mental health, community and ambulance services in England is calling for “immediate, emergency action” to support social care, which it describes as heading for a deep crisis due to the loss of workforce in recent months.

“If we want to keep hold of the staff that we've got, the government should seriously consider introducing some kind of emergency support for the social care workforce,” said NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson (pictured).

"One option is a retention bonus of a minimum of £500 each for the 1.5m social care staff in England, similar to the schemes now operating in Scotland and Wales. This would add up to a £750m bill, most of which would have to be a draw on the government reserve,” he added.

“While a £500 figure is not as high as some employers in retail and hospital are offering as a 'golden hello' in the run up to Christmas, this is a price worth paying if it helps keep social care functioning as we need it to through the winter.”

In a survey of 114 trusts, NHS Providers found 85 per cent of 172 board level trust leaders are very worried or worried that insufficient investment was being made in social care in their area.

“There are two immediate areas where they want the government to focus,” said Hopson. “First, they want the government to provide emergency help to enable the social care sector to keep its existing workforce in place over the next few months.”

"Second, they want the government to give greater leadership on public health. COVID-19 is still with us and while the NHS will do all it can to avoid another lockdown, stronger, louder and more frequent messaging is needed to reinforce what the public can do to manage the risks from the virus.”

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