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Nurse vacancies: patients’ access to social care ‘gridlocked’

CQC report identifies shortages of learning disability, mental health and community nurses as most acute, impacting vulnerable patients in secure units

CQC report identifies shortages of learning disability, mental health and community nurses as most acute, impacting vulnerable patients in secure units

The lack of nurses is making it ‘tougher and tougher’ to access safe and effective care in a ‘gridlocked’ health and care system, according to the England’s health and care regulator.

Some care homes can no longer provide nursing care – CQC report

Health and social care providers across the country are struggling to retain staff and need to recruit 165,000 people – the equivalent to the population of Newcastle – according to the

CQC report identifies shortages of learning disability, mental health and community nurses as most acute, impacting vulnerable patients in secure units

CQC report identifies shortages of learning disability, mental health and community nurses as most acute, impacting vulnerable patients in secure units
Picture: Neil O’Connor

The lack of nurses is making it ‘tougher and tougher’ to access safe and effective care in a ‘gridlocked’ health and care system, according to the England’s health and care regulator.

Some care homes can no longer provide nursing care – CQC report

Health and social care providers across the country are struggling to retain staff and need to recruit 165,000 people – the equivalent to the population of Newcastle – according to the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) annual state of healthcare report.

The CQC report, published on Friday, revealed widespread problems with care homes retaining nurses as they leave for better paid work in the NHS and elsewhere, meaning some homes can no longer provide nursing care.

This meant that people either had to move to another care home or have their care transferred to community nursing teams.

‘Without action now, staff retention will continue to decline across health and care, increasing pressure across the system and leading to worse outcomes for people’

Ian Trenholm, CQC chief executive

Social care system ‘at breaking point’

The RCN’s general secretary Pat Cullen called this ‘particularly worrying’ and said the social care system was at ‘breaking point’.

CQC chief executive Ian Trenholm said: ‘More staff than ever before are leaving health and social care and providers are finding it increasingly challenging to recruit, resulting in alarmingly high vacancy rates that have a direct impact on people’s care.

‘Without action now, staff retention will continue to decline across health and care, increasing pressure across the system and leading to worse outcomes for people.’

Nurse vacancy rate is the highest in the health and care sector

There are almost 47,000 vacant nursing posts. Illustration: iStock

The report also flagged England’s nursing vacancy rate of 11.8% as the highest in the health and care sector, representing a record number of almost 47,000 vacant nursing posts.

In particular, it identified shortages in the number of learning disability, mental health nurses and community nurses as the most acute, which could impact on vulnerable patients in secure units.

It added: ‘The supply of nurses into the NHS is not keeping pace with demand. Increasing the number of nurses is having no substantial impact on the number of vacancies or the shortfall of nurses in the NHS.’

CQC chief inspector of adult social care Kate Terroni called for a ‘real step change’ in thinking about how to attract and keep staff.

Along with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, Ms Terroni called on the government to publish a long-term workforce plan to address the shortages.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson would not commit to a workforce plan, but said the ‘report identifies the same priorities for improvement set out by the health and social care secretary in our Plan for Patients’.


Find out more

Care Quality Commission (2022) State of Care 2021/22


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