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29.05.15

Massive staff shortages predicted for NHS and social care

Demand for staff will far outstrip availability in the next few years for both the NHS and social care, warns a report by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).

According to the report, Skills and Performance Challenges in Health and Social Care, progression bottlenecks could limit the supply of workers with the right skills while demand grows in health and social care services.

It says over two million more workers will need to be trained and recruited by 2022.

Of the 2.1 million workers estimated to be needed in the sector between 2012 and 2022, 1.4 million (67%) were needed to replace those leaving existing roles.

But despite this need, UKCES findings show a poor prognosis for skills in health and social care, with employees finding limited opportunities to progress to higher level roles, and many younger workers leaving the sector as a result.

The research also shows a larger than average proportion of those working in the sector are aged between 50 to 64, further stressing the need for new talent as a large cohort of the existing workforce is set to retire in the years ahead.

Vicki Belt, assistant director at UKCES said: “With medical advancements leading us to live longer, more active lives, the knock on effect is a sharp rise in the need for those who keep us in good health in our later years.

“These findings demonstrate the dramatic extent of this need – health and social care is already the largest sector in the UK, yet to meet the rising need for care we will need to see a 50% increase in the number of people working in these fields.

“However, 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 the sector.”

The report also highlights the changing face of work in the sector, with future care needs set to revolve around enabling patients to support themselves and live independently.

An increasing shift towards patients managing their own care, and more care taking place in the home, is also creating a rising focus on preventative treatments, greater use of technology and a need for more autonomous, remote working from the existing workforce.

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.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

Comments

Nick Miller   14/01/2016 at 12:25

We are helping one of the ambulance services to hire train and relocate paramedics from Poland. We are part of the EU and as such I believe that we should treat it as a single market for skills. Instead of using Europe as a "last resort" the NHS (and all employers) may consider making itself an employer of choice for all EU countries. After all we happily accept without question workers who do not have the skills we really need so why not seek out the skills we do need as diligently in the EU as we do in the UK?

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