‘Intolerable’ shortage of nurses in care homes, reports Scottish Care

Written by Tom Freeman on 9 November 2017 in News

Independent care homes increasingly forced to use nursing agencies to meet demand, warns representative body

Elderly person - PA

Care homes are increasingly having to employ agency nurses at a cost of over £400 a shift to meet demand, a new report has warned.

A retiring workforce and high vacancy levels have left 91 per cent of independent care homes struggling to fill nursing posts, a report by representative body Scottish Care has revealed.

‘Independent Sector Nursing Data 2017’, which is to be published today, also shows the number of nurses registered with agencies has increased by 44 per cent since 2014.


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Agency work pays more and offers more forgiving hours than working for the NHS.

Dr Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care, said: “Last year we reported that we were facing significant challenge in relation to the shortage of nurses working in our care homes. 

“Despite strenuous efforts matters have got even worse in 2017 and we are now at the stage of many care homes being placed at real risk in terms of their survival.

“Paying exorbitant agency fees to plug a continuing gap is wholly unsustainable. Urgent short-term measures are needed, and require us to work with Scottish Government and other partners, to find solutions to this challenge.”

Theresa Fyffe, director of the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland, said the report highlighted how critical the situation had become.

“RCN fully supports Scottish Care’s call to make social care an attractive career path for nurses and for action to be taken right across health and social care and from the very start of nurses’ education in our universities, to promote the benefits to nurses of working in care homes,” she said.

The Scottish Government plans to set safe staffing levels in law with a new bill currently in development.

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