WORRIED social care providers are warning the Government that changing the rules on overseas recruitment would end up making the crisis in the sector worse and hit hospital healthcare too.
The social care provider organisation, The Independent Care Group (ICG) has written to Home Secretary James Cleverly urging him not to introduce measures that would hamper overseas recruitment.
It has warned that doing so would add to the 1.6m people who cannot get social care, increase delayed hospital discharges and lengthen waiting lists.
There are reports that the Government is considering a cap on care worker numbers, a restriction on dependents or an increase in the minimum salary threshold.
In its letter to Mr Cleverly, the ICG says any of these measures would have a brutal impact on recruitment from overseas and be potentially devastating for the delivery of social care in this country.
The letter, from ICG Chair Mike Padgham, adds: “I know that the Government is looking at ways of reducing immigration but tackling one problem by exacerbating another is surely not the answer.
“If the Government wants to reduce social care’s reliance on overseas workers, then it has to bring forward long overdue reform of the sector and give it the funding it needs to properly reward its workforce. That would help providers to recruit all staff more easily, including those in this country who currently choose other careers.
“In the meantime, making it harder to recruit from overseas would only serve to deepen the crisis in social care, increase delayed hospital discharges and lengthen hospital waiting lists. I would therefore urge you not to pursue these proposals.”
The ICG says the crisis in social care, which has a staffing shortage of 152,000 workers, is contributing to delayed hospital discharges, with around 13,000 unable to leave hospital, mainly because there are no care packages available to look after them. This is in turn exacerbating hospital waiting lists, with some 7.7m people waiting to be admitted.
Mr Padgham said: “We are writing to the Home Secretary in the hopes that he doesn’t try to address one issue by making another issue ten times worse.
“Staff from overseas have proved to be a lifeline for many care providers, a lot of whom could not operate without them.”
Providers fought to get the Government to allow care workers to get visas to come to the country to try to alleviate the staffing crisis, and Mr Padgham added: “The last thing we need is someone cutting that lifeline of overseas workers that we have been thrown.”