Report calls for planning strategy to deal with London recruitment crisis

A long-term workforce planning strategy for
social care and health is urgently needed to stem the severe
recruitment crisis in London, urges a new report commissioned by
Community Care.

report on the recruitment and retention of social care staff in the
capital outlines the severity of the crisis and analyses the impact
it is having on London social services departments.

Written by Anthony Douglas,
executive director of community services at the London Borough of
Havering, the report reveals that some social work teams in London
have vacancy rates of 40 per cent. Many home care and residential
staff are doing their own job and covering for absent colleagues or
unfilled posts at the same time. “Personal care jobs that should
take 30 minutes are often crammed into 15 or 20 so that time is
gained for the extra work,” it states. Services are increasingly
restricted to individuals and families on the edge of

report was launched earlier this week as part of Care in the
Capital Week, an initiative by Community Care to focus
attention on the recruitment crisis in the capital, share solutions
and promote social care as a career.

points out that the crisis is not confined to front-line staff.
Gaps in middle management have left many staff feeling exposed and
unsupported. This in turn leads to further exodus from
high-pressure jobs.

initiative” posts, such as those in Connexions and Sure Start, are
being filled with staff from local authorities, leaving the front
line deserted. “As a consequence, the standard of practice in
specialist projects is often much higher than in front-line child
protection and in looked-after children teams, the very opposite of
what was intended when the government developed ring-fenced or
specific grants to improve overall standards.”

result is that London boroughs are relying for front-line workers
on staff from agencies, “who charge a rapidly rising premium not
far short of institutional extortion,” says the report. And an
increasing number of social care staff are from overseas on working
visas. Care cannot be consistent as agency staff come and go. “The
likelihood is that a child, or any other vulnerable person, will
have a series of social workers and care providers, all with
different approaches and different opinions. Discontinuity of care
is often the norm.”

report urges an end to constant reorganisation in the public sector
in London. Managers are being tied up in restructuring or making
new organisations work. It argues that jobs in social work and care
need to become more manageable, as many staff feel their
“psychological contract” with their employer is being

report concludes that the situation is not universally desperate,
but soon will be as experienced staff are retiring without being
replaced by new recruits. It predicts the adverse trends will be
made worse by the need to expand the NHS workforce to fulfil
government pledges, which will impact on care management and
occupational therapy.

any national workforce planning tackles the shortages, services
will depend on employing more unqualified staff, more re-employment
of retired people and overseas recruitment, as well as improved
co-ordination of recruitment across all 33 London

Is Anybody Out There? Recruitment and Retention in Social
in London, from Community Care, Quadrant House,
The Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5AS. The full report is available
in the news section of

– Care
in the Capital Week is supported by Celsian


Proposed solutions include:

– Establish an office for recruitment and
retention in health and social care in London.

– Develop a coherent approach to recruitment
and retention initiatives in the public sector in London.

– Commission a fundamental review of health
and social care trends in the next 30 years.

– Review pay and benefits packages for social
care staff.

– Extend high-profile campaigns promoting a
positive image of social work and social care in London.

– Introduce “care” into the national

– Introduce workforce planning requirements on
all social care organisations.

– Ensure sufficient affordable housing is
available for all key workers in London.

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