Proposals to restrict movement of care workers

The National Care Forum (NCF) is encouraging all care providers to make their voices heard on government proposals that will stop the movement of care staff.

The government published a consultation on proposals to restrict the movement of care workers in England if they work in more than one health and care setting.

The proposals, if adopted, would prevent those providing nursing or personal care in care and nursing homes from working in two different care settings within a 14-day period unless this would result in unsafe staffing levels in a particular service.

A study on the impact of coronavirus in care homes in England indicated that one of the common factors in care homes with higher levels of coronavirus infection among staff was how much they employed staff who worked across multiple sites.

However, the National Care Forum (NCF) warns that legislating against staff movement does nothing to solve the fundamental issues of recruitment and retention.

Vic Rayner, executive director of NCF said: ‘The rationale behind the proposals is understandable, based on trying to reduce the chances of asymptomatic staff inadvertently spreading the virus, but the proposal is ill-thought through and will be hard to implement in the current circumstances.

‘Many providers have already limited the movement of their staff but this does not appear to have been acknowledged by the proposal.

‘In the midst of the very significant staffing and financial pressures around delivering care in the midst of a pandemic, managers will be expected to negotiate with staff around critical issues which could have potentially devastating impacts on an individual’s personal circumstance.

‘Rather than seeking to regulate to reduce staff movement at short notice in the middle of a pandemic, the approach needs to be more supportive and practical.

‘Our research with members shows that the Infection Control Fund, which has to date been utilised to minimise staff movement, vastly underestimates the costs that providers already incur, before adding on a meaningful compensatory mechanism to address shortfalls in workers’ incomes.

‘Simply legislating against staff movement does nothing to solve the fundamental issues of recruitment, retention, high turnover rates and competition from other sectors.

NCF is encouraging all care providers to make their voices heard in this consultation so that the government understands what is possible to implement in the middle of a pandemic and the resources needed to do it.

The consultation closes at 12pm on November 23 and can be completed online here.

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