Social care staff exodus as Tories need to prevent ‘tsunami of unmet need’

The Care Quality Commission made the desperate plea as exhausted carers leave to take up jobs in tourism and hospitality – meaning many older and disabled people can no longer get support at any price in their area

Social care staff are quitting in droves and urgent government action is needed to prevent a “tsunami of unmet need”, the care regulator has warned.

The Care Quality Commission made the desperate plea as exhausted carers leave to take up jobs in tourism and hospitality.

Many older and disabled people can no longer get support at any price in their area.

With winter looming, CQC chief Ian Trenholm said remaining staff “cannot be expec­­ted to work harder than they already are”.

Its annual report said some homes registered with the CQC as providing nursing care are no longer able to do so because they cannot get the staff.

The regulator said emergency funding was vital as hospitals could not discharge patients without social care to sup­­port them. And he warned the impact will ripple across the wider system if nothing is done, adding: “Those ripples will build into a tsunami of unmet need in all sectors.”

Staff vacancy rates stand at 10% on average but are much higher in some areas. The Tories have announced a National Insurance rise to fund social care but almost all the cash will go to the NHS for the first two years.

Age UK said the sector needed several billion just to stand still.

Rachel Harrison of the GMB union said social care faced 170,000 vacancies by the end of the year, not counting those forced out by November’s vaccination deadline.

The union wants a minimum £15 an hour, an end to zero-hours contracts and proper sick pay.

Ms Harrison added: “Anything less and carers will continue to leave and the sector will implode.”

The Government rushed out a £162.5m care “workforce re­­­tention and recruitment fund” in response to the report. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said it would “help deliver high-quality care”.