Covid Scotland: 'Critical need' for social care funding ahead of winter NHS pressures

There is a “critical need” to address funding and staffing issues in social care to relieve pressure on the rest of the NHS ahead of winter, a representative of care homes has said.

Scottish Care, which represents care homes in Scotland, said recent problems highlighted with the Scottish Ambulance Service are a knock-on effect of “fundamental problems” facing social and community care.

The Royal College of GPs (RCGPs) said the whole system is being affected, with more resources and staff needed to manage patients in the community.

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Donald Macaskill, CEO of Scottish Care, said urgent measures need to be taken to recruit social care staff before winter.

The healthcare service is one ecosystem, said Mr Macaskill.The healthcare service is one ecosystem, said Mr Macaskill.
The healthcare service is one ecosystem, said Mr Macaskill.

"There is fairly critical need to put some emergency funding in to address terms and conditions, rates of pay, the struggle to recruit people, as well as doing that medium and long term work,” he said.

“At the moment we're really struggling, and the fear of the care sector is that if we're struggling at the moment… what’s it going to be like in the winter?

“Winter is always a struggle in social care, without a global pandemic, without the flu, and without respiratory conditions.

“We really need to intervene now to be in a stage where we're going to be able to continue to deliver services safely in the winter.”

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Dr David Shackles, Joint Chair of the RCGPs, said the current pressure on GPs can be traced back to long-term staffing and recruitment shortfalls.

“We’d love to be able to get everybody through and see them, but we have a finite resource,” he said.

"And if we break that finite resource, it’s not going to be there for anyone. And then how are we going to cope? Then everybody’s going to A&E.”

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GPs are facing unfair abuse and negativity over not being able to cope with patient demand, he said.

“I think as a country we do all have to work together a little bit better to try and get through this and manage it for everybody… it’s not going to be healthy for anybody if the service collapses.”

He added: “We are part of the whole system, we try and work together as well as we can. If one bit of the system fails, the others will go like dominoes.”

Dr Macaskill said: “We've got to see that the challenges facing the NHS in both the acute and the ambulance service are very much related to the same challenges that social care providers are facing.

“We're all part of the one ecosystem, so what impacts on health service delivery impacts on social care, and vice versa.

“If social care is struggling to provide services to an individual to keep them independent in their own home then that has a direct impact.”

A spokesperson said the Scottish Government has approved funding to allow social care vacancies to be advertised with no cost on the my jobs Scotland website.

"We will be running a national marketing campaign to attract more people to the sector, focusing on social media, working with schools and colleges and linking to the work we’re doing with the Scottish Social Services Council and NHS Education for Scotland,” they said.

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