Healthcare workers blame skills shortages on poor patient care


healthcareThe majority of UK healthcare workers (89.7%) believe that worsening skills shortages are reducing levels of patient care, with 77.5% believing that low salaries are to blame for the lack of talent in this sector, according to data from job site, CV-Library.

The study, which explored the attitudes of over 1,000 healthcare workers towards key issues in the sector, found that the top three areas affected by skills shortages were care for the elderly (67%), mental health care (56.2%) and nursing home care (34.5%). It also confirmed that over half of workers (54.3%) don’t believe there is enough resource to deliver a seven-day NHS.

The findings also show that 65.8% of healthcare workers advise their current employer doesn’t fully utilise its existing talent/resource. Moreover, 76.9% believe that restructuring current staff could help to alleviate stress and maximise existing talent. Meanwhile, 81.4% believe that additional training provided by businesses within the sector could help to address skills gaps and 50.9% believe that there is enough existing UK talent to plug the skills gap.

“Our findings reveal the extent to which skills shortages in the healthcare industry are affecting patient care,” Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library said. “While candidates point towards low salaries as one of the reasons behind this, financial cuts are happening across the NHS, meaning many healthcare organisations are unable to meet demands. Organisations are having to become even savvier when searching for new talent; we are seeing the most successful results  amongst business that are taking a more targeted approach to recruitment, and complementing this with training to up-skill existing talent and make use of the resource already in the business.

“Our research found that 35.5% of workers think more training and development opportunities would entice people into the healthcare sector, as well as better opportunities for progression (31.6%),” Biggins said.

Many healthcare organisations have sought to plug the skills gap through offering contractor work, with a third of healthcare workers (38.7%) reporting that they have had a zero-hours contract. However, two thirds (64.7%) actually think that contract work deters people from the sector, suggesting it is not the best solution. A further 80.9% believe the healthcare sector is too dependent on contract workers, with 82.7% advising they are more interested in applying to permanent roles.

The NHS introduced an agency cap in November of last year. However, studies by the REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) and other recruitment agencies show that the caps risk patient safety and NHS Trusts are usually forced to breach the caps.

“If the industry is to see a seven-day NHS work effectively, then action must be taken today to better understand the supply of healthcare workers and address current and future resourcing issues,” Biggins said. “While a regular job posting would suffice a few years ago, nowadays organisations must be proactive and targeted to ensure they snap up the best talent. Unfortunately, the industry is facing skills shortages and skilled workers don’t hang around for long; working with recruitment experts that understand the pressures to help find the very best candidates can help significantly.”

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