Dr Deborah Lee, Dr Fox Online Pharmacy, discusses the recommendations made by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) which proposes 5 care guarantees to support health and social workers
Just how bad is work-related stress in those working in health and social care, during the current COVID-19 pandemic? This stress affects not just those at the NHS frontline, but all workers in every aspect of the healthcare sector.
The UK IPPR Progressive Policy Think Tank Poll (23rd April 2020) reported that 50% of healthcare workers feel their mental health had deteriorated since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, for 18-34-year-olds – this figure was 71%. Without serious action, the sector is at high risk of future collapse.
What could be the solution? The IPPR has recently published recommendations in a document entitled ‘Care Fit for Carers.’ Here, they propose a list of 5 guarantees, which would serve to prioritise the working lives of all staff in the health and social care sector.
Without these guarantees, the authors warn that anxiety, stress, depression and burnout, will mean the health and social care sector will implode, as workers leave the profession in droves. In their poll, 1 in 5 revealed they are thinking of quitting health and social care after the pandemic.
Now is the time to take action to support our hard-working health and social care workers right across the sector, and look to the future.
Care Fit for Carers, the 5 guarantees
- A safety guarantee – ensuring the supply of PPE and reinforcing the system for testing for health and care workers.
- An accommodation guarantee – No-one should face an accommodation crisis during this epidemic. The government should provide free hotel accommodation and issue grants to prevent any rent arrears.
- A mental health guarantee – the pandemic is having a severe impact on the mental health of all those working in health and care. The government must provide support for mental health by ensuring access to specialist services for all those working in the health and care sector.
- A pay guarantee – The government must ensure adequate pay for all those working in health and social care – firstly by ensuring workers have their full pay if they fall ill, and not just the paltry sum that is currently the norm as Statutory Sick pay. A 10% bonus for all health and care staff should be paid for 2020-2021. Workers in health and social care should have parity of pay with those in the NHS with clear career progression.
- A care guarantee – Because many care workers have unpaid care commitments, there must be a robust increase in childcare and nursery provision and community support for any dependants.
There is an additional proposal for a new NHS Bank Holiday to celebrate the work of healthcare professionals across the nation.
These guarantees have been met with a positive response from the IPPR Better Health and Care programme and the RCGP. It remains to be seen if they will be formally agreed by the government in due course.