The National Care Forum’s Vic Rayner OBE has responded to two reports recently published by the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee.
The twin reports - the first an evaluation of the government’s commitments, the second a report on recruitment, training, and retention in health and social care - highlight what the NCF calls ‘the stark situation in the health and social care workforce’.
According to the NCF, the first report ‘makes it clear that the government has not met its manifesto commitments in relation to building the social care workforce’, while the second ‘finds that adult social care and the NHS face the greatest workforce crisis in their history, compounded by the absence of a credible workforce strategy to tackle the situation’.
The committee has made a number of recommendations:
- The government should carry out transparent and independently audited reports on workforce projections for social care, public health, and health for the next 5, 10, and 20 years.
- Annual funding for social care should be increased by £7 billion by 2023-24.
- The government must ensure that the cost of care is calculated on the basis of paying care workers the same rate as equivalent NHS roles: Band 3 on Agenda for Change.
- The government must fund Skills for Care to pilot the Social Care Workplace Racial Equality Standard in the independent sector within 12 months.
- The government must commit to restoring social care staff free access to the same NHS training as community health colleagues by July 2023.
- New regulations should be introduced by 2023 in which care workers initially employed on zero-hours contracts must be offered a choice of contract after three months of employment.
Professor Vic Rayner OBE said: “NCF continues to work constructively with the government on its reform agenda but as these reports make clear, the scale of the challenge clearly requires immediate urgent action. In particular, we need a more concerted and meaningful attempt to create a dedicated and fully funded social care workforce plan alongside better pay, terms, and conditions – their absence from the government’s reform agenda is the elephant in the room. The reports outline the very real human pressures this is causing, both on the people working in social care and the people they support – action is needed now.
“We also note that a few of the Committee’s recommendations are similar to the recommendations of the Social Care Taskforce Workforce Advisory Group in August 2020, of which NCF was a part. Whoever wins the Conservative leadership contest must face up to the challenge of workforce planning and pay in social care, otherwise we will see further reports with the same recommendations, and a continued failure to harness the economic and social value that can be unleashed from communities by adult social care.”