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MPs warn of social care staff burnout

A probe by MPs has revealed high levels of stress and burnout among the UK’s social and health care workforce.

The inquiry by the Health and Social Care Select Committee examined workforce burnout across the NHS and social care in the context of increased pressures brought from the COVID-19 pandemic and the resilience of services to cope with high levels of staff stress.

“Workforce burnout across the NHS and care systems now presents an extraordinarily dangerous risk to the proper functioning of both services,” said Jeremy Hunt, the chair of the committee. “Staff face unacceptable pressure with chronic excessive workload identified as a key driver of workforce burnout.”

The committee’s key recommendations are:

Health Education England to publish objective, transparent and independently audited annual reports on workforce projections covering next five, ten and twenty years, including assessment of whether sufficient numbers are being trained

Workforce projections should cover social care as well as the NHS

The DHSC should produce a People Plan for social care as a priority, aligned to the ambitions set out in the NHS People Plan

Level of resources allocated to mental health support for health and care staff should be maintained as and when the NHS and social care return to ‘business as usual’ after the pandemic

NHS England should review role of targets across the NHS which seeks to balance the operational grip they undoubtedly deliver to senior managers against the risks of inadvertently creating a culture which deprioritises care of both staff and patients.

Care England welcomed the report with chief executive Martin Green OBE, calling on the government to address the need for reform within the sector, including the introduction of a 10 year plan similar to that operating in the NHS.

“Whilst the workforce is resilient it is only as resilient as the funding and support behind it hence the need for adequate long-term support for the sector. We want to work with the Prime Minister to ensure that his promise to reform social care is delivered upon and carries the views and experiences of those at the front line.  Money alone is not the answer, we need to ensure that social care is established as a career with the kudos associated with due professionalisation and one way to deliver that would be a ten year plan for workforce akin to that of the NHS,” he said.

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