Croydon’s NHS and social care system, already under extreme strain due to underfunding from central government, could be on the brink of complete collapse because staff, many of them EU nationals, face an uncertain future after Brexit.
The warning is contained in a damning report from the Institute for Public Policy Research, which suggests Britain will need to recruit 1.6million more health and social care workers by 2022, but will no longer be able to rely on a ready source of labour from Europe.
The report’s authors state: “A reliance on migrant labour in the care sector has masked the absence of effective workforce planning strategies, with employers turning to migrant labour to fill posts that may otherwise be difficult to recruit for.”
The IPPR says that around 6 per cent of people employed in social care – approximately 60,000 workers across the country – are European Economic Area migrants. Around 20,000 of these workers have arrived since 2012.
The care sector is under extreme strain because, according to the IPPR, “chronic underinvestment, weak regulation and oversight, and a lack of effective workforce planning and management skills. NHS statistics such as delayed transfers of care are increasingly demonstrating that higher demand for adult social care and pressure on local authority social care budgets is seriously affecting NHS performance, and threatening the financial stability and sustainability of the health and social care systems”.
One of the brakes on recruitment has been the low pay available for care workers – with the government continuing its austerity policy of a public sector pay freeze.
The GMB, the union for public sector workers, has called on the unelected Prime Minister, Theresa May, to pledge the necessary funding to train and recruit care workers urgently.
“Our social care system is already teetering on the brink of collapse – and post-Brexit there is the potential for it to topple over altogether,” said Rehana Azam, the GMB’s national secretary for public services.
“We desperately need well-trained, highly motivated care workers to help take care of our ageing population. If we lose tens of thousands of existing workers after leaving the EU, the situation will become critical.
“Instead of holding hands with Donald Trump and refusing to publish details of her proposed Brexit plan, Theresa May must make a cast-iron pledge to give our social care sector the financial backing it urgently needs – whatever happens after leaving the European union.”
- Inside Croydon is Croydon’s only independent news source, still based in the heart of the borough. In 2016, we averaged 17,000 page views every week
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or a local event to publicise, please email us with full details at firstname.lastname@example.org