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Social care lost 6.35m extra days to staff sickness during COVID-19, MPs report

Social care lost some 6.35 million additional days to staff sickness in the first five months of lockdown, Skills for Care has told MPs looking at the impact of COVID 19 on health and care staff.

Factors such as anxiety and guilt, as well as self isolation and quarantine contributed to the tripling in sickness rates seen in social care, details the report, The scale of and impact of workforce burnout in the NHS and social care.

Making a number of recommendations, health and social care MPs call for new measures to quantify and improve staff wellbeing and staff mental health in social care, including a new care staff survey, the creation of Freedom to Speak Up Guardians in social care, inclusion of social care in the People Plan, and further development of the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES). Furthermore, health and social care systems should aim to create cultures where staff are explicitly given permission and time away from work to seek help when it is needed. 

A key theme of the report is staff burnout, which has prompted the call for annual workforce planning to establish the right number of people, with the right mix of skills across both the NHS and care system. Noting the importance of staff from overseas in the NHS and in social care, the report calls for strategies to boost the recruitment, transition, and training of overseas care workers.   Key to this will be a long term funding settlement  for social care, supported by a 10-year plan, health and social care committee MPs conclude. They say: “Failure to do so is also likely to inhibit reform and lead to higher costs as workforce shortages become more pronounced.”

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