Nurses working in the independent care homes need to be given “parity on pay” with their colleagues in the NHS, according to representatives from the sector.
Care England suggested that nurses working in independent care homes did not seem to have been given the same priority by the government as those in the NHS, despite their “vital role”.
“Our nurses also deserve a funded pay settlement from government”
The body’s warning comes in the wake of the 6.5% three-year pay offer for nurses in England, which was recently accepted nursing union members.
Care England highlighted that, while NHS providers would have the cost of the pay rise covered by the Treasury, care homes would not have access to the same level of central funding.
Care homes must either fund any nurse pay increases via clinical commission group contracts, some of which Care England said were often only awarding 0% or 0.1% for 2018-19 to meet cost increases.
The body said that the other option for care homes was to fund staff pay rises via Funded Nursing Care (FNC) from the government.
But with only a 2% increase for 2018-19, this route did not allow homes to match the NHS pay awards and would put further pressure on already stretched providers in the sector, it said.
Care England highlighted it had warned ministers that the FNC – payable for nurse costs in nursing homes – rate for 2018-19 would not meet the “huge pressure being felt in the nursing home sector”.
Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said: “In addition to pay awards, providers are having to respond to the cost of rising dependency of nursing needs of residents.
“Additional costs come from the shortage of nurses, over which we have no control, meaning that recruiting nurses is a costly challenge along with increasing agency costs associated with rising nurse vacancies,” he said.
“The cost of employing nurses is rising with auto pension enrolment and other staff costs which must be met in order to retain our nurses and offer the best employment packages possible,” he said.
182 Martin Green English Community Care Association
“This linked with the rising number of nursing hours needed to meet care needs mean that central government is not supporting our sector sufficiently,” he added.
Dr Green also warned that the low FNC rate rise would only “exacerbate the recruitment and retention challenges our sector is currently facing”.
“The nursing home sector is a vital part of our whole health and social care system and ensures that people, especially older people, are discharged promptly from hospital,” he noted.
“However, the sector needs to be funded appropriately to do this and our nurses also deserve a funded pay settlement from government,” he said.