Cheshire East grant - chief executive appointed

Agency rates for care staff are “going through the roof” with some nursing homes having to pay £75 an hour for a qualified nurse, one of the council’s top bosses has said.

The demand for NHS and care staff is mounting with vacancies unfilled across the country.

Jill Broomhall, operational director of adult social care at Cheshire East Council, told members of the adults and health committee: “Agency rates for care staff are going through the roof at the moment.

“I know that in some of the nursing homes, they’re having to pay £75 an hour for a qualified nurse.”

She said agency rates for social workers are also going up dramatically.

“We’re trying to work with our neighbouring authorities to say look, we can’t just keep increasing and increasing,” said Mrs Broomhall.

“It has gone up from around £25/26 an hour, they’re now demanding more than £40 an hour for an agency social worker.”

She said that was for a basic grade not a mental health professional.

Mrs Broomhall was speaking after Cllr Laura Jeuda (Macclesfield South, Lab) asked if the rise in fees in the private sector was having an impact on the council.

“The primary care market is now demanding three times the fees for people being placed, I wondered if that was impacting on Cheshire East yet,” said Cllr Jeuda.

“And they’re also paying the workers three times as much as well, so it’s not a criticism, I just wonder how that’s going to impact our service users.”

Nichola Thompson, director of commissioning and transformation at Cheshire East, said the council was currently doing a review of its care fees.

“During Covid, because we had quite a lot of vacancies in our care homes, we saw our care costs come down slightly because there’s a little bit more competition in the marketplace,” said Mrs Thompson.

“Given all the national living wage rises, we have started to see letters coming through asking for increases in fees across the whole market, not just our care homes, so we are currently undertaking a care fee review.

“We have an independent company currently working with us to look at what we currently pay, benchmarking us against others, and talking to providers around what it should look like.”

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