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by Louise Wilson
09 November 2021
Social care staff ‘burnout’ could lead to more deaths, MSPs warned

Social care staff ‘burnout’ could lead to more deaths, MSPs warned

Social care shortages this winter could result in more unnecessary deaths, MSPs have been warned.

Addressing MSPs on Holyrood’s health committee, Unison’s head of social care, John Mooney, called for “urgent, radical action” on recruitment and retention.

A survey undertaken by the union found 97 per cent of respondents said their workplace was experiencing a staff shortage, with 90 per of them concerned about the impact this had on colleagues and patient safety.

Mooney said: “We’ve just come through a Covid-19 pandemic. We’re now facing a burnout pandemic.

“We already have investigations into why there were so many Covid deaths. I am really concerned that at the end of this winter we’re going to be looking at investigating deaths as a result of staff shortages.”

Coalition of Care and Support Providers (CCSP) in Scotland also warned about the impact of shortages in social care.

Chief executive Annie Gunner Logan said people were leaving the sector due to “burnout, stress, increased workloads” and better pay and conditions elsewhere, such as in retail and hospitality.

She added: “The staff we have are brilliant, but they’re exhausted. They’re leaving and never coming back. Recruitment has always been an issue in social care but we’ve never referred to it as a crisis before now.”

Both Unison and CCSP welcomed plans for a National Care Service but said steps to put this in place was some time away and action was needed sooner.

Other healthcare professions giving evidence at the Scottish Parliament committee also warned about recruitment and retention issues.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine said there was currently a shortage of 130 whole-time equivalent consultants in emergency departments across Scotland, while the BMA’s GP committee said there were 225 GP vacancies.

Colin Poolman, of the Royal College of Nursing, said the workforce had “never been under greater pressure” and called for better workforce planning.

Sharon Wiener Ogilvie from Allied Health Professions Federation Scotland added: “We’re noticing vacancies in all professions… That is really both affecting our ability to help people to stay safely at home and self-manage at home and prevent hospital admission, but also prevent us from supporting the public health, preventative agenda.”

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