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Older people let down by shortage of nurses in social care

8 Feb 2018

The RCN has responded to a report which reveals a lack of investment in adult social care has reached worrying levels with increasing care needs not being met.

Nurse helping elderly patient

A new report from the National Audit Office exposes a lack of funding in adult social care, resulting in too few staff to meet the increasing health needs of vulnerable older people.

It says employers are struggling to attract and retain staff in the sector with turnover and vacancy rates increasing over the past five years.

In 2016-17, the overall turnover rate was 27.8% and the vacancy rate was 6.6%. The percentage of empty registered nursing posts was even higher at 9% with 19% of the 43,000 nurses working in adult social care on zero hour contracts.

Low morale, poor pay and a lack of opportunities to progress are some of the reasons stated for the transient and understaffed workforce.  

The report suggests the workforce will need to increase by 2.6% every year until 2035 in order to meet the demand for more, increasingly complex, adult social care.

RCN Chief Executive Janet Davies said: “This report paints a damning picture of a cut-price service that lets down older people and those who work hard to care for them.

“We will never get the kind of care we all want for our relatives until social care tops the list of Government priorities, not budget cuts.

“The National Audit Office puts the blame for the current state of social care fairly and squarely at the Government’s door. It lays bare the lack of recognition, financial reward and career progression staff can expect if they choose to work in social care.

“Ministers must begin to end the ‘race to the bottom’ culture in social care and we must all ask serious questions about the cut-price approach the report exposes.”