fuel - Healthcare worker at home visit

Soaring fuel prices are adding to care worker shortages in Cheshire East as those who look after people at home struggle to pay for petrol, writes Belinda Ryan.

The council was awarded £19.4m over two years of the pandemic to help support the care market in areas including infection control, testing and vaccination and workforce recruitment and retention.

A report to CEC’s corporate services committee revealed some of that has gone towards easing the fuel pressures for care at home workers.

Cllr Stewart Gardiner (Con) asked whether the government funding had actually achieved the objectives.

Jane Burns, executive director of corporate services, replied: “We do know there have been huge pressures on the health and social care sector and a huge amount of work to support care providers, but there are real recruitment and retention issues nationally, as well as locally, which is probably why I would summarise that as a work in progress.

“And probably a lot more will need to be done to provide a stable workforce.”

The report stated recruitment and retention pressures on the care market continue because of competition from the retail and hospitality industries.

This it says has a knock-on effect for the NHS because medically fit patients can’t be discharged from hospital.

“This has settled to a small extent in care homes but continues in care at home services where increases in fuel costs are exacerbating the issue,” said the report.

“A proportion of the final tranche of the WRRF (Workforce Recruitment and Retention Funding) was paid to care at home providers to support their care workers with fuel costs.”

The report also states the previous 6% fee uplift for care providers has been increased to 14% so they are able to offer staff better rates of pay.

The additional cost is being funded from the Better Care Fund.

It adds: “The beneficial effect of this is starting to be felt with improved retention of staff and a small increase in new staff joining as rates of pay begin to match those in the hospitality and retail sectors.”

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