The Independent Care Group has reacted angrily to claims that care providers are “broadly relaxed” about changes in overseas recruitment which will hamper them from bringing vital staff to this country.
Health Secretary Victoria Atkins told the Health and Social Care Committee that she had been told the social care sector was broadly relaxed about the measures the Government has put in place, including a ban on care workers bringing over dependents.
The ICG said the remark showed how out of touch with the social care sector the Government was.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “This comment beggars belief and illustrates how little the Government understands the current situation in social care.
“To say we are ‘broadly relaxed’ could not be further from the truth – the sector has been plunged further into crisis by these latest measures.
“The banning of dependents will deter many people from coming to work for social care when we have 152,000 vacancies and desperately need overseas staff to keep delivering care to older and vulnerable adults who rely upon us on a daily basis.
“The Government is taking draconian and knee-jerk actions to cut overseas workers but failing to do anything to help us recruit more from this country.
“At the moment many providers would not be able to fill their shifts without their overseas staff, who we should be welcoming with open arms. Instead, the Government is putting measures in place to reduce numbers without having an alternative in place to provide us with the staff we need.
“By reducing available community care, the Government will undoubtedly increase the number of people who cannot be discharged from hospital, also contributing to rising hospital waiting lists.”
The ICG says long standing underfunding of the sector, compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, has left the sector in its worst ever staffing crisis.
“Social care provision is on its knees,” Mr Padgham added. “The last thing we need is tinkering with the lifeline of overseas workers that we have been thrown.
“Damaging social care provision goes against the Government’s desire to cut delayed discharges and reduce waiting lists.
“Of course we want to recruit in this country but we need to see a proper workforce strategy that brings sufficient funding into social care that makes it an attractive place to work compared to other sectors and on a par with the NHS.
“Then we might see a reduction in the workforce shortage that is threatening proper, safe care delivery.”