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More than 90 care home operators in England declare red alert over staffing

Care operators are facing acute staffing shortages caused by Omicron with more than 90 declaring a “red” alert, which means staffing ratios have been breached.

Over 11,000 care home workers are off for Covid reasons, according to internal health system staffing data seen by the Guardian. One of the UK’s largest private operators, Barchester, is dealing with outbreaks in 105 of its 250 homes. It said that rules meaning homes with Covid cannot accept hospital discharges will cause backlogs in the already struggling NHS.

Across England, 9.4% of care home staff are off work, according to government live data, with close to 3% absent because of Covid. The figures, which may be an underestimate because of the festive break, are drawn from submissions by thousands of care providers.

“The spread of Omicron across the country will bring more care homes into outbreak, put huge pressure on the already compromised staff group and mean those who need care do not get it,” said Vic Rayner, chief executive of the National Care Forum. Many care operators said delays in getting PCR test results back were a key frustration, meaning workers who may not be infected were isolating longer than necessary."

Stephen Chandler, president of the Association of Directors of Social Services, said councils were braced for calls for help from care operators and said “the care that people experience will be affected”.

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Source: The Guardian, 5 January 2022


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