New betrayal of care homes: Experts warn of ‘disaster’ facing nursing centres amid fears of staff shortages as post-Brexit visa rules exclude low-paid foreigners
- Care homes face ‘potentially disastrous’ staff shortages due to migration rules
- Migrants, including from the EU, will not be eligible for visas to work as carers
- The PM has insisted the UK workforce can fill over 100,000 social care vacancies
Care homes face ‘potentially disastrous’ staff shortages due to new migration rules barring foreign workers from the sector, ministers were told last night.
Migrants, including those from the EU, will not be eligible for visas to work as carers when a points-based immigration system comes into force on January 1.
Foreign nationals will also be blocked from entry to work in more than 500 other job categories, including hospital porters, bus and train drivers, ambulance technicians and lower-skilled builders.
Boris Johnson has insisted the UK workforce has sufficient numbers to fill more than 100,000 social care vacancies.
But Age UK urged an immediate U-turn and warned that the needs of the elderly had been ‘sacrificed’.
Pictured: A nurse testing a resident in a care home for coronavirus in Brussels. Boris Johnson has insisted the UK workforce has sufficient numbers to fill more than 100,000 social care vacancies
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: ‘Now we have left the EU, we are free to unleash this country’s full potential and implement the changes we need to restore trust in the immigration system.’
She announced a new Health and Care Visa among a package of measures but it will not be available for foreign workers to come and work as carers. It means that from next year those roles can only be filled by workers in the UK, including the 3.4million EU citizens who already live in Britain.
Downing Street insisted employers should invest more in training and development for carers.
It comes the day after Mr Johnson was urged to fulfil his pledge to ‘fix the crisis in social care once and for all’.
The Daily Mail reported yesterday how Care England, which represents 4,000 providers, warned in an open letter to the Prime Minister: ‘With a second wave on the horizon, it is imperative that the Government fixes the stark social care crisis now.’
The Mail’s campaign to end the dementia care scandal is demanding action so sufferers are no longer forced to sell their homes to pay for care. Last night Care England’s chief executive Martin Green said: ‘The Government’s decision not to include social care workers in the NHS visa scheme is another example of the way in which the Government treats social care staff as second-class citizens.
People who want to live and work in the UK will need to gain 70 points to be eligible to apply for a visa
‘The impending threat of the international workforce supply being turned off has the potential to destabilise the sector even further with potentially disastrous consequences.’
Caroline Abrahams, of Age UK, added: ‘It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the best interests of older people in need of care have been sacrificed on the altar of other political priorities.
‘It’s really disappointing that the Government’s Health and Care Visa turns out to be a care visa in name only. We urge the Government to think again.’
Saffron Cordery, of NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, said: ‘The lack of support for the social care workforce is concerning. The NHS is adversely impacted by the crisis in social care.’
Royal College of Nursing chief Dame Donna Kinnair said: ‘The care system has been heavily reliant on international staff. The proposals continue to ignore the significant risk to this sector and therefore the entire health and care system.’
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: ‘Refusing to include care workers in the NHS visa is a disastrous mistake.’
The King’s Fund health think-tank put social care vacancies at 122,000 at the end of last year.
Almost 30,000 more care home residents died in the first three months of the pandemic than in previous years, and at least 540 frontline staff have lost their lives.