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'Unhealthy competition' for care nurses must end, says minister

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An “unhealthy competition” for nursing staff between the NHS and social care sector must end, a government minister has said.

Care minister Caroline Dinenage says the Department of Health & Social Care is working with arm-length bodies and the Skills for Care charity to “address workforce barriers to integration”, including the development of new roles and training resources.

Health Service Journal reports that she told an event last week: “Across parts of the country we have unhealthy competition for nursing staff between the NHS and [the] social care sector and we need to continue to work out how to overcome issues like this, what action needs to be taken and what level we need to do that at”.

government report from January 2018 on the nursing workforce raised concerns that the rising demand for nurses in the acute sector, post-Francis inquiry, has “drawn nurses away” from social care and community services.

At last week’s event, hosted by Public Policy Projects, the minister also outlined the work the government is doing on the social care green paper. The event was held under Chatham House rules, but Ms Dinenage has now given permission for HSJ to publish her comments.

She said the country is “at the point of no return” when it comes to the state of adult social care funding.

She added: “Over the years this is an issue that has been used as a political football by all political parties, but there is no time to do that anymore.

“Getting this right promises a better system… where people can understand their responsibilities and prepare for the future.

“The long term funding profile of the social care system will be considered in the round at the spending review [in 2019]. The green paper will look at the long term strategic view on how to fund social care. This is a question under much debate and we will come out with some proposals and consult widely on them.”

No details have been officially released about what this long term funding strategy might look like, but various ideas have been mooted.

These include tax rises, a social insurance scheme, or the resurrection of the Dilnot plan in which there would be cap on how much anyone will spend on their own care.

Ms Dinenage has also spoken of the need to bolster NHS community services, and yesterday announced plans to offer “golden hellos” to nursing students who want to train as a district nurse.

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