One million more health and care staff needed over the next decade, report says

·3-min read
The report suggests the projected gap in the workforce is in addition to current vacancies across the health and care system (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)
The report suggests the projected gap in the workforce is in addition to current vacancies across the health and care system (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

More than one million extra health and care staff will be needed in the next decade to meet growing demand for care, according to a new report.

Another 488,000 health staff and 627,000 social care workers will be needed to meet demand and recover from the pandemic over the next decade, research from charity The Health Foundation suggested.

This would mean a 40% increase in the health workforce, double the increase of the last decade.

The charity predicts the number of social care staff will need to jump 53%, meaning a four times greater increase than in the last 10 years.

Workforce shortages are the biggest risk to post-pandemic recovery

Anita Charlesworth, Health Foundation

The Health Foundation Research and Economic Analysis for the Long term (Real) Centre, which published the figures on Friday, said a major boost in the workforce would require “significantly” more funding over the next 10 years.

The increased need, the charity said, is driven by an ageing population, rising numbers of people with long-term chronic health problems, and a major backlog in care as a result of the pandemic.

The NHS alone will need to grow at twice the rate of the last decade, and much closer to the historic average, according to the report.

This would mean around £70 billion extra by 2030/31, a 3.2% annual real terms funding increase.

Social care funding will need to rise more quickly than the NHS, said the charity, reversing a trend stagnant social care spending.

The report highlights a growing gap between the demands on services, particularly primary, acute, mental health and social care, and the staff and resources available to provide care.

The charity is calling for investment in training and recruitment in the UK and internationally, and salaries, working conditions, and career progress to be made competitive in order to attract new people to roles and retain current staff.

5.6 million people are already waiting for care and the health service desperately needs more staff

Anita Charlesworth, Health Foundation

The report suggests the projected gap in the workforce is in addition to current vacancies across the health and care system, with the NHS 94,000 short of staff and social care at 112,000.

Anita Charlesworth, the Health Foundation’s Director of Research and Real Centre, said: “If the Government doesn’t take action now to invest in the workforce the NHS and social care system are likely to face a decade of increasing staff shortages.

“5.6 million people are already waiting for care and the health service desperately needs more staff.

“Workforce shortages are the biggest risk to post-pandemic recovery.

“Despite the more immediate challenges posed by Covid-19, the Government must not lose sight of the underlying demand and cost pressures facing the NHS and social care over the long term and the need to plan better to increase the workforce to meet this demand.”

She continued: “In the forthcoming spending review it is vital that the Government’s recent commitment to put money into day-to-day NHS care is matched with investment to train the health and care staff needed.

“A comprehensive fully funded workforce plan should be the top priority for government.

“Without it our health and social care service will be unable to keep up with demand, and care will fall well short of standards in other Western European nations.”

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