Care staff shortages pile pressure on NHS, say hospital managers (BBC)

Carolina Williams
October 23, 2021

Significant shortages of staff who provide care for patients in need have been reported. The lack of much-required care staff is sadly impacting the NHS and its ability to safely discharge patients, who are ready to leave hospital care, back home. Not only is this devastating for patients who would like to return back to daily life in the comfort of their home, but also for palliative patients who would prefer to die at home but are unable to without the care and support they need.


There are also associated delays for the patients who require inpatient hospital care as beds are more likely to be occupied by patients who are fit for discharge. The NHS has already been subjected to increased pressures since the COVID-19 pandemic started, treating patients affected with the virus itself alongside those suffering with all other conditions, and waiting lists have increased as a result.


Food for Thought

Why is there a care staff shortage?

A range of factors seem to have contributed to the care staff shortage. Care recruitment firms report difficulty employing and maintaining staff due to exhaustion and burnout or higher pay offered in other industries. However, even the firms paying their employees reasonably well are unable to provide enough care staff for the amount of people requiring it. DrKris Owden who runs a care staff firm would like it to be that ‘carers paid better, with a proper career structure and recognition of their skills’ (BBC,2021).


What are some temporary solutions to the care staff shortage?

Some healthcare staff are being asked to carry out frontline care work in addition to their usual work. This is tiring for staff and leads them closer to burn out. There sadly may not be many other solutions other than building an appropriately sized, stable care staff work force which will sufficiently support patients and those in need, and subsequently alleviate pressure on theNHS. This is especially important in the post-pandemic period.


Practice Interview QUestions
  1. Why are care staff so important? Hint – think about the role of care staff, the wishes of patients and their families, the benefits of people returning home on their health and the NHS, and so on. ‍
  2. Can you name some of the many people that may form aMulti-Disciplinary Team (MDT)? How does this team work together to best look after the patient?
  3. What do you think are some steps that can be taken to help tackle the care staff shortage?


Extra Reading (optional)

Covid-19: Care staff shortages and UK economy grows (BBC):


England care homes 'may beforced to close' as Covid jab deadline looms (The Guardian):