By Sophie Coles
Last Winter (2022) saw the NHS experiencing the worst winter crisis since records began. Waiting times for ambulances, in A&E departments and for elective surgery were all longer than they have ever been, which negatively affected thousands of people.
One of the most affecting factors last year was the NHS’s workforce and the monumental demand for healthcare outstripping resources. Latest available vacancy figures for NHS Registered Nurses (June 2023) was 10.6%. SNHSocial care figures are equally shocking, with poor pay affecting recruitment and retention of carers. So how do we manage this significant challenge with the upcoming winter pressures?
Investment is a key priority for healthcare
Investment is key. Investment in the future of NHS and Social Care service delivery must be seen as a key priority. In my earlier blog on the Future Social Care Coalition report on ‘Carenomics’, I described how the government has allowed the care sector to become significantly underfunded and fragmented.
It is clear why social care staff are leaving the sector and moving to jobs where T&C’s and pay are much better. The social care sector has been haemorrhaging staff for a number of years, and despite it being a critical service, 4 out of 5 UK jobs still pay more than social care work.
I described the imagery of the domino effect when thinking about the impacts of the lack of investment in social care.
- A lack of investment in social care equals increased avoidable hospital admissions
- A lack of investment in social care equals increased delayed discharges; people deteriorating in hospital and losing function; often then needing more help
- A lack of investment in social care equals additional pressures on already stretched NHS services
- A lack of investment in social care equals families reaching breaking points and can have devasting impacts on health, wellbeing, dignity and quality of life for people.
At some point in our lives, we will all come face-to-face with the health and social care sector, whether through a family member becoming ill, or we ourselves requiring intervention. Or perhaps an unexpected hospital admission means we will require reablement or rehab or, maybe one of our ageing friends, who requires additional support.
Health & Social Care matter.
Health & Social Care matter beyond what we recognise until we are either having to make tough decisions as system leaders, or, when we ourselves, or a family member, become a user of services.
Decisive action by government and provision of truly adequate funding will enable the system to be sustainable. This means real transformation of the system is non-negotiable. Winter will soon be upon us and systems will become pressurised on a scale that poses significant concern.
C.Co understands the monumental system challenges that there are and we believe that all parts of the health and care system play a critical role over the winter period.