Care Minister Gillian Keegan rejects calls to bring in more social care workers from abroad to ease staffing crisis as she says ‘hoovering up’ employees from other countries is not the answer
- Minister Gillian Keegan has rejected calls to ease immigration rules for care staff
- Ms Keegan said ‘hoovering up’ staff from abroad is not the answer to staff crisis
- Care watchdog warned action needed now to prevent ‘tsunami of unmet need’
Ministers today rejected calls to ease immigration rules to bring in more care workers from abroad to tackle a national staffing crisis.
Gillian Keegan, the Care Minister, said ‘hoovering up’ workers from other countries is not the answer to shortages in the sector.
She said it is a ‘constant battle to keep enough people coming into social care’ but insisted domestic reforms will resolve the problem.
Her comments came after the Care Quality Commission warned urgent action is needed to prevent a ‘tsunami of unmet need’, with staff ‘exhausted and depleted’.
Gillian Keegan, the Care Minister, said ‘hoovering up’ workers from other countries is not the answer to shortages in the sector
Ms Keegan told Sky News this morning: ‘It is a massive workforce, it is bigger even than the NHS, 1.5million people, and it does have challenges all the time because every year the need grows by one to two per cent as the demographics change in our country. More elderly people, more need.
‘So it’s this constant battle to keep enough people coming into social care.’
Told that care workers could be added to the Government’s shortage occupation list to allow in staff from abroad, Ms Keegan said: ‘We have senior care workers on that list but I don’t think that is really the answer, hoovering up everybody else’s social care.
‘We have done this before, so in the pandemic what we did before was a very similar thing to what we have announced today.
‘We got extra capacity in the system with agency staff, thousands of new recruits, but also more people working more hours, so paying for childcare in some cases to enable people to be more flexible and work a few more hours.’
Ms Keegan said the Government is providing £163million to get extra short-term capacity into the system but said long-term reform is needed.
She said: ‘It is not easy to fix because you have got 1.1 million vacancies. This money will help but it is a challenge. We need to put this workforce on a much better footing for the long term.
The Care Quality Commission has warned urgent action is needed to prevent a ‘tsunami of unmet need’, with staff ‘exhausted and depleted
‘We need to professionalise this workforce. It isn’t invested enough in, the training isn’t invested enough in. There is massive churn, 40 per cent churn.’
The CQC has warned that social care staff are ditching the sector to take up roles in tourism and hospitality.
Ian Trenholm, chief executive of the CQC, said health and care staff are ‘exhausted and depleted’ and working under intense levels of pressure, with many services at or over capacity.
The regulator has warned of a ‘serious and deteriorating’ situation in terms of recruitment and staff retention in adult social care.