The number of vacancies for registered social care nurses has tripled.
Age UK claims that many parts of the country have become ‘care deserts’, where older people are unable to access residential or home care, regardless of whether they can pay for it or not.
A new study, carried out by Incisive, an independent health consultancy, shows that 1.4 million older people are missing out on the right level of care due to cuts to social care funding and a shortage staff.
The charity says the number of vacancies for registered social care nurses has tripled in the past five years, meaning there are 8000 fewer nurses now than in 2012.
This lack of nurses means vast sections of the country, dubbed ‘care deserts’, are suffering from a shortage of care providers, and many older people have to travel a long way to get the care they need.
The study showed that while the situation across different areas the country is wildly different, each place showed a cause for concern, whether that was a chronic lack of care now or the risk of losing care workers following Brexit.
Chaotic and broken’.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK says: “This new report shows how chaotic and broken the market for care has become after years of underfunding and the absence of determined Government action to ensure the right workforce is in place.
“The end result is laid bare by the authors – the emergence of care deserts and a deeply worrying lack of nursing home places, in particular, leaving some of our most vulnerable older people high and dry. It would be hard to exaggerate how serious the implications of this report are for older people, or indeed for the NHS, which is the place of last resort if no nursing home places are to be had.”
“The report shows what an impossible position local authorities are in; they are supposed to ‘manage’ their local care market, but they lack the levers to do so and the big drivers of the problems in the care industry are way beyond their control.
“Meanwhile, they are desperately short of money to purchase care home places for older people in need, so more and more of the financial burden is being shifted onto those older people who fund their own care, who are paying through the nose to keep the system afloat. This is deeply unfair.
“Incisive Health’s report demonstrates that the situation differs markedly from place to place but in the end the fragile nature of care in our country is a national problem and it needs a national solution. If the awful situation set out in this report doesn’t persuade our Government to finally get a grip and take action I don’t know what will.”