A report by the UK commission for Employment and skills (UKCES) warns that the demand for staff will far outstrip availability in both the NHS and social care over the next few years. According to the report, progression bottlenecks could limit the supply of appropriately skilled workers whilst demand in both sectors continues to grow.
This places enormous pressure on current health and social care workers, forcing them to work long hours to cope with workload. Subsequently, errors could be made while performing day to day duties, putting lone workers at greater risk of injury or attack. Could the overriding pressure on such workers be jeopardizing their safety?
By 2022, the health and social care sector needs to train and recruit over 2 million more workers to satisfy demand. 2.1 million (67%) of these are needed to replace workers leaving existing roles. The research also highlights that a larger than average proportion of workers in the sector are aged between 50 to 64, stressing the need for new talent as a substantial cohort is set to retire in the approaching years. Despite this need, UKCES reported that employees in the health and social care sector were offered limited opportunities for progression to more challenging roles. Many younger workers are choosing the leave the sector as a result.
Vicki Belt, assistant director at UKCES said: “The problem goes beyond just a need to recruit. Employers must do more to create attractive career pathways through which people can progress, as well as develop training routes which can apply to roles in both health and social care – opening access to all areas of the sector.”
The changing face of work in the sector was also underlined in the report, with the future seeing patients support themselves and live independently. With care responsibilities shifting towards the patient, the amount of care taking place in the home will rise. This does however increase the likelihood of health and social workers making home visits, putting them at risk of lone worker assaults or attacks. Measures should be put in place to ensure the safety of these outreach carers.
In order to tackle these challenges the report calls on employers to create more training opportunities and intermediary roles, increasing options for progression, as well as develop dual training routes – allowing individuals to progress careers in both health and social care without the need to retrain.