Portsmouth council staff could be moved to work in social care to cope with Covid crisis

COUNCIL workers could be redeployed to help care for people discharged from hospital under contingency plans being drawn up in Portsmouth.

Friday, 14th January 2022, 3:27 pm
Updated Friday, 14th January 2022, 3:38 pm

With Covid-19 cases in the city expected to peak in the coming days, the number of people being moved into the care system is also expected to rise, putting extra strain on a system already hit by a recruitment 'crisis'.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Andy Biddle, the director of adult social care at Portsmouth City Council said the council was preparing to help manage potential staff shortages.

'[Redeployment] is something we did in the first two waves although this time there is no clear guidance from the government,' he said. 'It's a case of exploring the options we have and asking people to volunteer and use skills they already have but may not necessarily use any more.'

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Portsmouth city council staff could be moved into social care roles

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Earlier in the pandemic, the council carried out a skills audit to identify employees with the most suitable skills to be redeployed to help provide care.

Mr Biddle said recruitment in social care was 'more difficult' now than previously, particularly with home care providers, despite an ongoing council campaign to promote the career.

In November nine contracts were returned to the council by providers who were unable to find adequate staffing and this has been exacerbated by infections and isolation in the workforce linked with rising Covid-19 cases.

'What we are doing is having discussions so that if we get to the point, which some of the modelling is showing, where care worker attrition reaches a critical level we are in a position to maintain services,' he added.

'The modelling we have locally follows what we've seen in London in recent weeks. We are anticipating a wave of hospital admissions that will be followed by a wave of discharges.'

Speaking at the city council's cabinet meeting for health on Thursday, strategic lead for intelligence Matthew Gummerson said cases in the city were expected to peak over the next week.

Mr Biddle said recruitment problems were giving the council 'a lot of difficulty' and that it was taking five to eight days to sort care packages for people leaving hospital. This would usually have been arranged within a day.

'We're running a really positive recruitment campaign showing just how great of a career as a carer can be but what we really need is a long-term plan from the government,' he said. 'We need investment in the sector to back all the good work going on in it.'