There could be a catastrophic impact on the country’s mental health, family safety and job security as coronavirus crisis impact care workers.
A poll of 1,000 healthcare professionals for the Institute for Public Policy Research, carried out by YouGov,
The left-of-centre think tank is calling for a ‘Care Fit for Carers’ support package to guarantee safety, accommodation, mental health, pay and care.
Suggests that Covid-19 has made more than one in five healthcare workers more likely to leave their role after the pandemic.
In the NHS England this would be the equivalent of losing 300,000 workers.
A package put together by IPPR for frontline “heroes of the coronavirus” has been launched, with the same ambition as the post-World War 1 drive to deliver “homes fit for heroes”.
It comes as more than half of healthcare workers said their mental health had deteriorated since the Covid-19 crisis began. Mental health impact was greatest on younger workers (aged 18 to 34) – where as many as 71% said their mental health had got worse.
As many as one in three reported that their physical health has got worse since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis. Half of healthcare workers said the government had not done enough to protect their families’ health.
There were also major concerns among respondents over childcare and job security.
IPPR has called for five guarantees:
A Safety Guarantee – The government must do everything in its power to ensure PPE supply to health and social care workers through this crisis – including by extensively repurposing UK manufacturing. They must also urgently make progress on testing health and care workers.
An Accommodation Guarantee – No-one should face housing or accommodation insecurity while working on the coronavirus frontline. Government should expand the offer of free hotel accommodation and provide grants to cover rental arrears during this crisis period.
A Mental Health Guarantee – The severe impact of the pandemic on the mental health of healthcare workers is clear, including stress, anxiety and trauma. The government must ensure workers’ mental health is safeguarded by extending access to priority specialist therapy to nurses, midwives, ambulance staff, clinical support staff and the 1.3 million people working in social care.
A Pay Guarantee – The government must ensure everyone in the sector has adequate pay to live off, and recognise their skill and effort, by:
- Guaranteeing people their full salary if they fall ill, rather than the ‘pitifully low’ Statutory Sick Pay entitlement.
- Paying a one-off Covid-19 bonus of 10 per cent for all workers in health and care for 2020/21.
- After the crisis, ensuring no health and care professional is paid less than the real living wage.
- Giving social care workers parity of pay with NHS work, with salaries starting from £19,737 and clear progression – a move that will also help tackle the high turnover rate in social care.
- A Care Guarantee – Many health and care professionals have unpaid care commitments. The government must prioritise key workers by funding a significant uplift in free childcare provision, and by prioritising their dependents in community support – such as nurseries and creches.
IPPR said that if action on this scale is not taken, the result will be “significant strain” on key workers during the Covid-19 crisis. In turn, this could leave many leave the sector after the outbreak – due to burnout, anxiety, trauma or stress – leading to a “collapse” in care capacity across the country.