Care homes and other social care services could face a ‘staffing blackhole’ if temporary arrangements are not introduced to manage the initial impact of the Government’s Immigration Bill, the leaders of 37 national organisations have warned.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Cavendish Coalition, which is delivered through NHS Employers (part of the NHS Confederation), has set out its ‘grave concern’ about the current immigration proposals, saying that they could have a damaging impact on the sector and the people who rely on its services, particularly as the country heads towards what is expected to be a challenging winter while dealing with the ongoing threat of coronavirus.
The Bill, which has cleared its stages in the House of Commons, would see the end of free movement with the European Union in favour of a points-based immigration system that currently does not include social care as the roles do not pass the proposed minimum salary threshold and are not classed as a shortage occupation.
This is despite one in eleven posts across social care being unfilled and the contribution of these essential key workers being widely acknowledged during the pandemic.
The coalition of national bodies is calling for the Government to introduce a ‘transitional solution’ that would avoid a cliff-edge scenario for international recruitment to social care while efforts continue to expand the country’s domestic workforce.
Danny Mortimer, co-convenor of the Cavendish Coalition and chief executive of NHS Employers, which is part of the NHS Confederation, said:
“If adult social care wasn’t in a precarious position before coronavirus, it certainly is now. One in five health and care workers have said that are likely to leave their roles after the pandemic, which is pretty worrying given that this was a sector that entered it with 122,000 vacancies.
“The Government has undermined the vital role of social care in its proposed points-based system for immigration, which will effectively turn the tap off international recruitment in an instant and create a staffing blackhole at a time when these services are expected to more stretched than ever before.
“And if social care suffers, so will the NHS with understaffed services likely to lead to a very real risk of hospital beds becoming filled during winter as the NHS attempts to pick itself up and resume services that it had to pause because of the initial phase of the virus.
“It is critical that the Government ensure a transitional solution is in place for social care in January 2021 to navigate the gap between the introduction of the new immigration system and a longer term plan and funding settlement for social care in England
“Currently, we are heading towards an alarming destination with no immediate solution and so, we are urging the Prime Minister to act.”
The Cavendish Coalition is a group of 37 organisations, including the NHS Confederation, from across the UK that are committed to helping to design and deliver policies that have a positive impact on the UK’s health and social care system following its departure from the European Union.