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18th August 2014

Independent sector nursing recruitment crisis spells disaster for NHS, says Mario Kreft

Care Forum Wales' chair Mario Kreft has said that the lack of medically-trained care home nurses is pushing the independent sector towards crisis point.

Mr Kreft spoke out after it was revealed two homes in the Bridgend area were closing. He has called for fundamental changes to tackle a dire shortage of nurses in Wales which is leading to nursing home closures which will, in turn, push the NHS beyond breaking point, according to Mr Kreft.

HC-One, which owns Abergarw Manor in Brynmenyn and Southmead Grange in South Cornelly, blamed “a national shortage of nursing staff” for the “very difficult decision”.

Mr Kreft said: "We know there are major issues affecting the care sector in Wales, particularly in care homes registered for nursing.

"The owners of the two homes in Bridgend have been quite clear that for them the overriding issue was the lack of nurses, the inability to recruit enough nurses of the right calibre.

"That is something that is reflected across Wales, but it is also partly due to the fact that the commissioning arrangements make it very difficult to attract people to do that particular type of work." 

Mr Kreft continued: "In Wales we don't, in all truth, commission for quality it's more about price and we work backwards from the fee that we’re given.

"The problems are compounded because we don’t regulate against the service that we’re actually commissioning so we regulate for a service that in many ways would be an ideal service with unlimited resources."

Independent sector beds 'underpin' NHS

Mario Kreft said the issue of nursing recruitment in the independent sector will have a knock-on effect on the NHS in Wales because the sector's 11,500 beds 'underpin' the NHS.

He said: "We have a sector of 11,500 beds and this is just the nursing homes, not the residential care homes, and those beds are underpinning the NHS.

"If we don’t sort this relatively quickly the closures are going to accelerate much more quickly than new investment is coming in - all at a time of soaring demand when the NHS is also bursting at the seams.

"If we don’t bring more nurses into the independent sector then we’re going to find that the closures which will inevitably come about will mean that more people will have to reside or find their services in a hospital bed.

"If you’re assessed as needing nursing care in a care home registered for nursing, the only feasible alternative if that home is to close is that either that you go to a similar establishment or a hospital bed.

"That means we are sleepwalking into a perfect storm unless urgent action is taken.

"Care Forum Wales has been very clear that three aspects are working against the independent sector, and therefore undermining the NHS.

"One is the huge, massively significant growth of the need. At the same time we have this very real reduction in resources and we have a workforce [recruitment] problem.

"In this case we are talking about a shortage of qualified nurses but they are supported [sic] by social care workers."



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