Nine in 10 (89%) NHS and social care workers state chronic staff shortages are affecting the quality of care, a new study reveals.
A study of over 1,000 health and social care workers, conducted by Florence, the tech platform providing health & social care workers access to available shifts, found that within the 89%, three quarters (76%) stated quality of care is already being ‘severely’ impacted as high vacancy rates sweep across the industry.
With A&E wait times at the highest levels they have been in over a decade and over 6.5 million people on the waiting list for hospital treatment there are clear concerns about the ability for the sector to cope with the demand for treatment.
However, research suggests that things are set to get a lot worse with nearly nine in 10 (85%) health and social care workers expecting wait times to increase over the rest of 2022. Shockingly, health workers mostly expect wait times to double this year (25%), while a further one in five (19%) expect times to more than double the current records.
Healthcare workers also cited that not having enough staff is causing the most pressure in their role (50%), this was followed by low pay (39%) and high workload (35%).
A reduction in wait time is important to mitigate quality of care being further impacted. The study shows that to reduce wait times a third (30%) believe the government needs to put an increased focus on recruitment on hiring, over a quarter (27%) are calling for the whole system to be overhauled, and over one in five (22%) feel the government needs to do encourage more people into the sector early on (e.g. at school or college).
Fiona Millington, Chief Nurse at Florence has long argued that vacancy rates are a big problem within the sector: “The biggest challenge for the industry at the moment is, without a doubt, staffing. There are more nurses leaving the industry than joining, at a time when the demand for nurses is increasing. The number of vacancies still sits above 105,000 and remains much higher than the overall unemployment rate. As unemployment falls, social care vacancies rise, with pay being a huge factor. A couple of years ago we had in excess of 120,000 vacancies, this number has been growing since and now sits at a much higher figure. The NHS is plugging vacancies with resources from other countries and areas but it has become just a constant cycle of crisis management, without developing long term solutions to the problem.”
Dr. Charles Armitage, Former NHS doctor and CEO and Founder of Florence, added: “If you’ve got fewer people there on-shift to look after people, the quality of care decreases because the people that are there are overstretched, they’re trying to do too many things, they make mistakes, they’re not able to just spend as much time with people, provide that really important patient-centred care.”