Monday, 6 Dec 2021

‘Can’t get workers’ Question Time audience member warns of Brexit collapse in social care

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The BBC’s current affairs debate show was in Cardiff on Thursday night and tackled the recent controversy regarding social care in the UK. A new calculation system from the Government was approved earlier this month, although many MPs, including some from the Conservative Party, have expressed their opposition.

However, one audience member, who claims to have 40 years of experience in the health and social care industry, said he is not hopeful about the future of the sector.

He explained how the “absolutely fantastic” and “hardworking” foreign workers from Poland, Bulgaria, Spain or Portugal in the sector were a pillar that had been lost due to Brexit and Covid.

The man, 58, told the panel: “I can guarantee to you from first-hand experience that I have had only this morning that within five to ten years there won’t be a social care sector.

“The numbers simply aren’t there.

“They can’t recruit.

“I talked to care home managers who were in tears.

“They were not so worried about how their business was going but more about the vulnerable people they are serving.“

He went on to accuse Boris Johnson, 57, of having deliberately and willingly gone down a path with the UK that he knew was going to lead to this alarming situation by promoting Brexit.

Regarding a lack of workforce, the health and social care worker explained: “We can’t get the care workers into this country. Several went back just before the pandemic and during it. I can tell you the care sector is going out the window as we speak.”

Data expert Timandra Harkness challenged the audience member’s comments.

Ms Harkness said: “Looking for low paid workers, from countries where the cost of living is lower, is not a progressive way to solve the problem of shortage of workers. The answer is to pay people properly and to make it a profession that is respected as it should be.”

She mentioned how the ceremonial clapping the country respected during the different lockdowns in 2020 in honour of all health workers quickly went out the window as unvaccinated care workers now risk being sacked on top of their low wages.

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However, the care worker trainer said the reality was that generally speaking, British people do not want to do that job.

In October 2021, the Care Quality Commission alerted that the vacancy rate in care homes had steadily grown to reach 10.2% as of September – meaning in a year’s time one in 10 care home staff will not be in that job.

Some facilities which are struggling to fill posts even had to turn away new patients.

Vacancies in the care sector are soaring but many workers have turned to retail and hospitality, citing less stressful conditions in addition to higher salaries.

As a solution, the Government’s £5.4billion investment in health and social care was welcomed by care homes as it includes £500m across three years to support the adult social care workforce.

The Department later pledged an additional cash injection of £162.5million targeted at workforce retention and recruitment in England.

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