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Care issues highlighted in Northamptonshire

Community, safety and emergencies

25 October 2021

A carer helping an elderly woman out of a wheelchair
“As leaders across Northamptonshire’s health and social care system, we are acutely aware that many areas are currently experiencing challenges, which have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We also know that the winter months will bring further trials ahead and we are united in calling for central government to act now and provide financial help to bridge the gap in care worker shortages in our county.

“Care worker shortages in Northamptonshire are already resulting in delays to patient discharges in our hospitals. This is of extreme concern because experience tells us that the situation in the coming winter months will only worsen. When we don't have enough care workers to put care packages in place for people who need support at home after leaving hospital it leads to delays, and that means patients have to stay there longer than necessary. This can often slow down patient recovery and lead to more care being needed longer term. That’s not what we want for residents and we know people want to stay in their own homes and stay independent for as long as possible. Care worker staff shortages also ultimately impact on patients waiting longer in A&E, as well as planned hospital care because without enough patient beds available in hospitals, operations and procedures may need to be delayed.

“In order for residents to transfer from hospital beds back to their homes and community without delay we are calling for immediate and sustained funding from central government to enable us to recruit and bolster the care workforce. We need to attract workers with competitive salaries and offer proper remuneration for the caring, sensitive and challenging work they do and as our ageing population grows. The ring-fenced funding to help with social care workforce pressure announced by government on Thursday was very welcome. But it is only available until the end of March 2022 and not a long term solution. It doesn’t address the core issues of attracting and keeping a valued workforce who will keep the most vulnerable safe. While the announcement suggested funding could help through overtime hours and using bank staff, these solutions are already being used by Councils everywhere and are not filling the gap and while the funding will stop in March 2022 the need and the demand won’t.

“We are committed to working together, as partners to help create a better solution and to provide improved experience for patients, families and our staff. In the meantime, to address the shortfall in community care workers we are working closely with families, the voluntary sector and other services, such as the fire service who we hope may be in a position to visit someone at home if they need a safety check or have had a fall. We will always put the safety of patients first and we will as always do what it takes to make sure that people who need care get it and ideally in their own homes.
Joint statement from Simon Weldon, Group CEO of University Hospitals Northamptonshire, Heidi Smoult, CEO of Northampton General Hospital and Anna Earnshaw, Council's Chief Executive West Northamptonshire
“I fully support West Northamptonshire Council's Chief Executive Anna Earnshaw and our health care colleagues in their call for more funding to urgently attract care workers to the profession and to boost the current care workers pay offer.

"We desperately need to recruit quickly to the sector but in the meantime, I encourage anyone who thinks they could help out to come forward, even if it’s just as part of a “winter workforce”. We will also need communities to continue to be the pillar of support they have been through the pandemic and I urge families to do everything they can to ensure their loved ones stay safe in their own homes and are checked regularly. If they do need to come to hospital for treatment then we will also need their help to get their loved one's safely back home."
Cllr Matt Golby, Portfolio Holder for Adult Care, Wellbeing and Health Integration
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