With the fastest-growing number of vacancies of any sector at the end of 2020, health and social care work is currently up against an existential threat.
Although an issue that is far from new to the healthcare industry, a mix of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic has meant organisations are struggling to fill roles at the rate they need. The last 18 months have simply exposed and exacerbated existing structural issues.
Low pay, punishing hours and technical barriers to entry have made care work unappealing to the majority of UK workers. But as the population ages, rates of chronic health conditions increase and demand for support increases, the sector simply cannot afford to continue under its current model of employment.
In our recent eBook, we’ve examined what went wrong in the industry over the last 12 months and how organisations can adapt to overcome the current challenges.
The important stats
- There are currently 1.65 million jobs in the UK’S Adult Social Care sector
- Social care staff turnover was 30% between April 2019 and March 2020
- The World Health Organisation estimates there will be a global healthcare workforce gap of 14.5 million by 2030
COVID-19 was especially challenging for the care sector. Social care workers faced among the highest mortality rates by occupation during the first phase of the pandemic, and their sickness rates more than doubled between February and October 2020.
On top of this, 56% of care home nurses reported that they felt worse than normal in terms of both their physical and mental wellbeing. A third of care sector staff were reportedly considering quitting their jobs by July 2020.
The Brexit crunch
Brexit has cut a hole in the available healthcare workforce with 12% of UK workers being non-British nationals.
In parts of South-East England, a third of care workers are non-British citizens; that figure is just 6% in Yorkshire and the Humber. It is also true that the proportion of foreign workers is higher in the NHS than in private businesses.
Between the impact of the pandemic and Brexit’s thinning of the available talent, businesses will have to rethink the way they approach recruitment and staffing in order to survive. And to do that, they must look to the larger structural issues that underlie these more recent, visible challenges.
3 ways the care sector can solve staffing shortages
- Embracing technology
- Improving public perception
- Develop a blended workforce