Care sector job vacancies soar as post-Brexit immigration rules start to bite

The number of vacancies advertised on Totaljobs rose by 84 per cent compared to last year

Holly Bancroft
Saturday 25 September 2021 03:33 BST
Residents and care workers at Churchview Nursing Home in Liverpool watch a video of last year's christmas lights switch on in Liverpool city centre.
Residents and care workers at Churchview Nursing Home in Liverpool watch a video of last year's christmas lights switch on in Liverpool city centre. (PA)

Job vacancies for care home workers have soared by around 80 per cent as post-Brexit immigration rules start to bite.

Over 13,000 social care vacancies were advertised on Totaljobs recruitment site in August, a rise of 84 per cent compared to the same period last year.

The stress of working through the coronavirus pandemic and endemic staffing problems has left employers struggling to find people to fill the existing gaps.

The government’s introduction of a mandatory vaccination policy for workers, coming into force on November 11, has also pushed carers out of employment.

Nicola Richards, director of Palms Row Health Care Ltd, called the staff shortages “terrifying” and said she has found it difficult to recruit temporary staff to support her residents.

Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group, urged the government to set up an emergency volunteer task force of retired nurses, doctors and carers to help the sector cope.

He said: “This would need to be done quickly so that they can be DBS checked and trained before winter pushes us to tipping point.

“We need some urgent funding to be put in place, like the government did with infection control, to enable providers to address pay within the sector and help them to recruit, because staff shortages are now becoming critical.”

Data from the Institute of Health and Social Care Management has found that 27.6 per cent of home managers have lost between one and five staff over their refusal to get the coronavirus jab.

Speaking to reporters on his recent US trip, prime minister Boris Johnson said he would not delay the deadline for mandatory jabs for social care workers, despite the mounting problems in the sector.

He said: “I think that it’s only reasonable to expect people to be inoculated against a disease which is particularly harmful to elderly and vulnerable people.”

Asked about concerns care homes might fold as a result of the policy, he said: “That’s why we’re investing in the caring profession and carers.”

Jane Brightman, director of social care at IHSCM, said she was “genuinely worried” about how the sector would cope as it heads into autumn and winter.

All these issues have been exacerbated by post-Brexit immigration rules, which make it harder for care homes to fill their positions with EU workers.

A report from the Migration Advisory Committee admitted last week that the rules were “expected to deprive the UK of a non-negligible source of foreign adult social care workers” and that nationals from the European Economic Area had been a significant source of workers, The I reported.

Jon Wilson, CEO of Totaljobs, said the pandemic had shone a spotlight on the social care sector. But added: “With vacancies remaining high, it’s clear that more positive perceptions of the industry won’t guarantee that people will click that apply button on a job ad and launch a long-term career in care.”

He called on the government to use its upcoming whitepaper to address the recruitment and retention challenges.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in