A shortage of trained nurses is pushing the independent care sector in Wales to crisis point, according to providers.
The warning comes after the closure of two care homes in the Bridgend area were blamed on recruitment problems.
“If we don’t bring more nurses into the independent sector then the inevitable closures will mean more people will have to reside in a hospital bed”
HC-One, which owns Abergarw Manor in Brynmenyn and Southmead Grange in South Cornelly, said it was forced to make the “very difficult decision” to close the homes because of “a national shortage of nursing staff”.
Mario Kreft, chair of the Care Forum Wales, which represents more than 450 care homes and social care providers, said commissioning arrangements that were “more about price” than quality were also a factor in staff shortages.
“We know there are major issues affecting the care sector in Wales, particularly in care homes registered for nursing,” he said.
“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,” he said.
“This is something that is reflected across Wales but it is also partly due to the fact the commissioning arrangements make it very difficult to attract people to do that particular type of work,” he added.
Mr Kreft said nurse recruitment problems in the independent care sector would inevitably have a knock-on effect on NHS services with more frail and elderly people forced to remain in hospital.
“We have 11,500 beds in nursing homes alone and those are underpinning the NHS,” he said. “If we don’t bring more nurses into the independent sector then the inevitable closures will mean more people will have to reside in a hospital bed.”
The Welsh government has said it would work to ensure the care and safety of residents at the two homes that are closing.
“Health boards and trusts are responsible for identifying the workforce needs for their populations,” said a spokesperson.
“The Workforce Education and Development Service works with health boards to understand the requirements of sectors other than the NHS, such as care home nurses,” they added.
“This is taken into account each year when pre-registration education places are commissioned.”