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Christie + Co review commentary from industry leaders

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In June Christie + Co, specialist property advisers, released a report ‘The UK Nursing Workforce: Crisis or Opportunity’ looking at the main issue affecting the care sector; staffing. Now, Christie + Co review the responses to the report from key players in the sector. 

Key themes raised by industry leaders include: 

Workforce planning: One of the key issues raised in the Christie + Co nursing report and consistently by The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is workforce planning. At their yearly conference the RCN passed a resolution calling on the government to change their lackadaisical approach to nursing workforce planning. They also noted that particularly within England, workforce planning was devolved to local clinical commissioning groups and local education and training boards, however, Health Education England also worked on regional target setting for nursing commissions based on projections for future demand. The concern raised by the RCN was that workforce planning was increasingly driven by affordability and not demand. The Christie + Co report stated that the shortfall of nurses was 24,000 and towards the end of June Health Education England announced that 23,121 extra nurses will be trained over the next four years to meet growing demand. 

Staff turnover: The nursing report highlighted that as pressure on the aging workforce, from an aging population, continues, we will see a significant number of nurses leaving the profession. It also highlighted that the drop-out rate from nursing courses was 20%. A recent report by the National Care Forum highlighted the correlation of staff turnover to salary level, with the greater turnover amongst those paid lower salaries; the issue of funding and what operators are able to pay remains a key issue.     

Shortage occupation list: In the nursing report care home operators discussed the shortage occupation list and it was also highlighted in House of Lords debate. There are continuing questions as to why nursing was not added to the list. It is clear that without foreign nurses the shortfall would be even more extreme and the announcement that foreign workers earning under £35,000 will be deported has been widely condemned. 

Career pathway: Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission, at the Westminster Health Forum on Elderly Care recognised the need for upskilling care assistants and creating a clear career pathway for care assistants, so they can become skilled in some of the roles that are traditionally being delivered by fully qualified nurses, with the appropriate support and supervision from nursing staff. A key factor raised in the House of Lords debate was how to entice young people into the care profession, particularly taking into account that demand in the area will increase dramatically in the coming years. Care home operators, including HC One and Barchester who were both interviewed for the nursing report, are looking at solutions to bridge the gap between care assistant and nurse, through upskilling care assistants.  

2015 Budget: The budget announcement of a new living wage will bring new challenges for the industry and put a number of operators in an unsustainable financial position in the absence of compensatory fee rate increases. The new living wage is likely to have a significant negative impact with this further demonstrating why local authority fee rates need to be set at a level which covers the true cost of providing care. It remains to be seen if additional funding will be provided and we urge all stakeholders to consider carefully the ramifications of implementing the new living wage without this compensatory realignment of fee rate levels.

Michael Hodges, Director of Healthcare Consultancy at Christie + Co comments: “We have seen positive inroads on a variety of the key themes raised in our report and there does seem to be a genuine push from many industry parties to work together to find solutions. However, this week’s budget also clearly shows why a fully joined up approach is needed around the issues of care home funding, staffing and workforce planning.”

Download ‘The UK Nursing Workforce: Crisis or Opportunity’ report here:

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