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Staffing crisis in health and social care will worsen post-Brexit

Posted on 18/12/2017 by

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CARE: North Yorkshire County Council has warned of a workforce shortage in the health and care sector which is expected to be exacerbated by Brexit. 

NORTH Yorkshire’s health watchdog has written to the government over mounting concerns about a pending staffing crisis in health and social care in the county.

A cross-party letter has been sent to the Secretary of State for Health and the Shadow Health Minister warning of serious concerns about workforce shortages in North Yorkshire across the health service and in social care.

It was written following North Yorkshire County Council’s scrutiny of health committee, and was also sent to the county’s MPs and the chair of Westminster’s Health Select Committee.

The letter sets out some of the immense challenges facing North Yorkshire and urges changes to national policy and explains concerns that the workforce shortages will worsen once the UK leaves the EU.

North Yorkshire has one of the country’s largest populations of older people and faces additional problems in delivering health care in that its residents are spread out over a large, sparsely populated area.

“Despite people’s best efforts, I am concerned that the workforce shortages that we are currently experiencing will get worse due to the impact of the UK exit from the EU and the end of student bursaries for nursing and midwifery”, said Cllr Jim Clark, chair of the Scrutiny of Health Committee.

The scrutiny of health committee is calling for a reshaping of the health and social care workforce with more integrated roles across the two sectors to address workforce shortages.

It is also calling for clarity about the rights of EU workers; a review of the financial support that is offered to people seeking training in health and social care; additional funding so the NHS and local authorities can increase pay in the health and social care sector and the promotion of social care work as a career with national training and development put into place.

North Yorkshire’s Scrutiny of Health Committee and the Care and Independence Overview and Scrutiny Committee have held a series of joint meetings over the last three months at which expert witnesses from health and social care have given evidence about workforce planning issues impacting upon North Yorkshire, the North East and UK.

One of the main issues identified was a national shortage in social care staff due to increasing demand for social care for older people, low pay rates and rising cost of living, a perceived lack of career progression, difficulties in retraining staff and a shortage of affordable housing.

Other issues were workforce pressures in the NHS due to pay restraint, the increasing number of patients and complexity of their health needs, the introduction of safe staffing policies and the uncertainty about the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU.

It was also found that recruitment and retention of some skilled medical staff in North Yorkshire and the North-East was more difficult than elsewhere in the country and that the end of bursaries for nurses and midwifery training were adding to health and social care workforce shortages.

Cllr John Ennis, chair of the Care and Independence Overview and Scrutiny Committee, stated: “Members were keen to see the county council continue to promote social care careers, as an interesting and rewarding career option for a broad-base of non-traditional workers, such as: retirees; young people; students; men; ex-military; long term unemployed; and people on Job Seekers Allowance or Universal Credit.”

Cllr Jim Clark added: “As well as promoting careers in all aspects of health and social care, the challenge is to reshape the workforce, change the skills mix and develop new roles that reduce the dependence on traditional and hard to fill roles, such as GPs.

"We need to be innovative rather than fall into the trap of continuing to try and recruit to those roles that are never going to be filled.”