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CQC warns of care crisis

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Social care has been stretched by the pandemic Social care has been stretched by the pandemic

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has said that there is a ‘tsunami of unmet need’ in health and social care.

The organisation’s annual State of Care report has pointed to the detrimental impact of nursing staff shortages as a major factor.

Other findings include that while all sectors are struggling with staffing pressures, vacancy rates in social care are rising steadily. This can leave residents looking for new homes in local areas that may already be at, or close to, capacity. It also calls for more stability in social care, which could improve access and quality to services.

Read more: Nursing workforce too chronically under-resourced to deal with pandemic

‘As this report shows, unsustainable staffing pressures throughout the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on nursing staff and, most of all, patients across England. Unrelenting pressure is damaging patient care, with some care homes forced to close because they can’t recruit enough staff,’ said Pat Cullen, RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive.

‘The Health Secretary should be doing all he can to prioritise patient safety and credibly respond to repeated warnings about the nursing workforce crisis. The Government must invest in the workforce as an investment in patient safety.’

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The report also found that the number of people seeking emergency care is also on the rise, which gives way to unacceptable waiting times for ambulances. It adds that there is urgent action required to move care away from hospitals where possible to ease pressure and resources on emergency departments.

‘The regulator pulls no punches in revealing the scale of the action required in social care in particular. The shortage of staff must be addressed – the pressure on those still working, and the people in their care, is too high and unsafe,’ said Jeremy Benton, RCN Council Lead for independent sector.

‘A stable care sector, with adequate funding and staffing, would provide higher quality care we would all want for our families and play a part in alleviating pressure on the NHS too.’

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The short fall in community health and social care staffing will displace further patient activity onto our existing over stretched and under resourced urgent and emergency care systems. Patients with chronic and long term conditions who are not receiving community adequate care, or are on waiting lists pending definitive treatments will inevitably become 'acute on chronic' and require acute care. These patients with their with associated co-morbidities will have less good outcomes and require longer hospital stays - the lack of appropriate care homes to discharge them to will further impact on length of stays. The CQC's State of Care report will provide further evidence to the DH about the true picture of the crisis facing the NHS.

Mike Paynter
Consultant Nurse in Urgent Care
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