Urgent call to tackle NHS and social care workforce burnout

10 June 2021

In a highly critical report, MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee have found that workforce burnout across the NHS and social care sector has reached an emergency level and poses a risk to the future functioning of both services.

Workforce burnout and resilience in the NHS and social care available here, argues that only a total overhaul of workforce planning can provide a solution.

While it recognises that Covid-19 had a huge impact on workforce pressures, the Committee was told of staff shortages across the NHS and social care prior to the pandemic, with such shortages identified as ultimately the biggest driver of workforce burnout.

Committee Chairman Jeremy Hunt said: “Staff face unacceptable pressure with chronic excessive workload identified as a key driver of workforce burnout. It will simply not be possible to address the backlog caused by the pandemic unless these issues are addressed.”

The report concludes that available funding was the driver behind planning, rather than the level of demand and staffing capacity needed to service it. It further cites the absence of any “accurate, public projection” of workforce requirements in specialisms over the next five to 10 years.

Responding to the Committee’s findings, Councillor David Fothergill, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s (LGA’s) Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Social care staff have been on the frontline throughout the pandemic, doing everything they can to protect people of all ages from the dreadful effects of coronavirus”.

This report highlights a huge recruitment and retention crisis in social care, he went on, with more than 100,000 vacancies available on any given day and extremely high turnover rates.

Director of Leadership and Organisational Development at The King’s Fund, Suzie Bailey, said: “This report provides a stark depiction of the chronic excessive workloads endured by staff across the NHS and social care. It is a bitter irony that so many health and care staff are made ill because of their work”.