The annual figures released by Skills for Care show a sharp slope in the number of nurses working in England’s Adult Social Care Unit. In previous years the number of nursing staff in these care units has fallen by 4.5%. According to Skills for Care, in 2020-21 and 2021-22, the unit had a shortage of 1600 nurses, and now, it has reached up to 1800.
The Skill for Care report also talks about the longer-term trends that show the registered nurse is the only job role where hiring is going down. It has been challenging for the social care units since 2012-13 to fill all the available posts of registered nurses. From that time to the present year, the number of registered nurses has fallen by 36% or approx 18000 posts.
The Social Care Sector of the country has a fall of 3% in filled nursing staff. So, the sector has a lack of 50,000 registered nurses. It is the highest decrement in nurse recruitments since 2012-13 when Skill of Care began to record the data.
As per the reports and numbers, the number of registered nurses is falling, and at the same time, their demand is increasing. The report indicates towards this major issue. It says that all the direct care unit has the greatest fall of 4% or 55,000 vacant posts of nurses. Especially registered nurses posts have a 4.5% decrement in recruitment. The new figures reflect the recruitment challenge in this sector.
Andrea Sutcliffe, Nursing and Midwifery Council chief executive and registrar, called the decrease of number nursing staff in social care disappointing. On mentioning the council’s steps to overcome this issue, she said that they’ve called for a sustainable workforce plan that considers the demand for health and care services. She further adds, “It’s essential that this doesn’t just cover NHS and primary care nurses, but all those working in the community, including social care.”
Andrea Sutcliffe also said that she hoped the new specialist practice qualification of NMC in health and social care would provide greater opportunities to strengthen the position of nurses in adult social care and support their continuing development.
Skills for Care’s chief executive officer Oonagh Smyth also talked about the decreasing numbers of nurses. She said, “This highlights the recruitment and retention challenges which we know social care employers are facing right now and is not a decrease in demand for care services.” While talking about the future trends, she further added, “in fact, our forecast data tells us that we will need a 27% increase in posts in social care by 2035 to continue to maintain the current levels of care and support to people who will need it in the future.”
Gavin Edward, Unison social care lead, describes these vacancies in social care units as alarming. He said, “the sorry state of social care is having a disastrous effect on the NHS, causing massive treatment waits, letting down patients, and putting unbearable pressure on health staff,” Nurses work as a backbone of the medical sector, and the fall in their numbers is disturbing. The fall in filled posts of nurses in social care units has become a greater challenge, and it needs to be addressed soon with some tenable plans.