A new report has found that the care sector has the highest turnover of all industries in the UK – a full one in three workers leave the sector each year. How does this shortfall impact pharmaceutical error?

Low pay, won’t stay

A study from the Care Association Alliance in partnership with legal firm Royds Withy King found that the care sector is beset by multiple serious problems.

Firstly, pay is low at £350 per week, around £200 less than the UK all-jobs average. In addition, many of the workers in the sector are in an older age bracket themselves. Out of 1.47 million workers, 23% (305,000 workers) are aged 55 or over.

The report says retention problems plus the retirement of older workers in the next ten years could mean half a million new care staff will be needed within the next decade just to maintain current demand.

The UK’s ageing population

Maintaining staffing at current levels will be a challenge, but the reality is that an ageing population will mean more workers are needed to service the estimated 13.25 million people aged over 65 in the UK by 2030.

It is estimated that 128,000 workers are needed to replace assistants who retire or leave each year, but within 10 years the sector will need to find 500,000 new members of staff. The current annual recruitment figure is around 20,000.

Immigration restrictions and Brexit

Care sector workers are overwhelmingly female (over 80%) and a substantial proportion were born overseas. Around one third (33%) of nurses and 16% of care assistants are foreign nationals; within London, the figure rises to 84% of nurses and 65% of care assistants.

The sector is reliant on workers from within the European Union, but this source of labour looks set to be restricted following Brexit. The government has proposed replacing freedom of movement within the European Economic Area (EEA) with a 12-month low-skilled visa following the UK’s departure. This is likely to reduce the flow of workers into the care sector, at a time when demand is increasing.

What does this mean for pharmacists?

We know that care homes have a problem with errors in administering medication according to a recent article in the Pharmaceutical Journal. It stated that 99 million errors take place in the sector each year, or 41% of the total.

It’s not hard to imagine that many of these errors could be caused, at least in part, by the high staff turnover in the sector. The more experience and familiarity workers have with their roles, and the more invested and committed they are in delivering quality care, the less likely errors will be.

How Pharmapod can help the care sector

We’re unlikely to find a magic bullet to solve the care staffing crisis. However, we can deploy technology to reduce the likelihood of errors in prescribing and administering medication.

Pharmapod is an easy-to-use system for recording errors anonymously, giving pharmacists the opportunity to review and improve their practices to help prevent problems and reduce risk.

Talk to the team today to find out how it could help your business.


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