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Union’s care service plan calls for ‘broad pay parity’ with NHS staff

Union’s care service plan calls for ‘broad pay parity’ with NHS staff

Nurses working in the social care sector should have their pay and conditions ‘progressively aligned’ to that of their NHS counterparts, according to a plan for a National Care Service published by Unison.

The report, launched by Unison and the Fabian Society thinktank today, laid out a ‘roadmap’ for long-term reform of the social care sector, culminating in the creation of a new care service by July 2028.

Under the proposed National Care Service, the pay and benefits of social care nurses should be ‘progressively aligned to NHS employees with broadly similar responsibilities and skills’, the report said.

Additionally, the report’s authors said service providers funded by a proposed National Care Service should be required to meet or exceed a ‘national framework of employment’.

‘The overall aim would be to achieve broad parity with similar roles in the NHS, modelled on the Agenda for Change system of NHS pay scales,’ according to the report.

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said that social care has ‘been neglected for too long’ and that reform was needed to tackle poor staff retention within the sector.

‘Raising pay is key to stopping the exodus of staff quitting for higher wages and less stressful, emotionally draining jobs elsewhere,’ she said.

‘A National Care Service would boost wages, put quality above profit-making and ensure everyone receives the support they need.’

The report, which is titled ‘Support Guaranteed’, also highlighted the importance of developing a highly trained workforce, with health professionals such as nurses occupying senior and specialist positions.

However, the authors stressed that this would be a ‘journey over decades’ because there is ‘neither the money nor the supply of skilled workers’ to rapidly change the workforce profile.

Local authorities should be required to develop arrangements to support joint planning and delivery of training and professional development across all NHS and social care providers, suggested the report.

Additionally, it argued that local areas should be required to have a ‘a clear understanding of their future needs for health and social care workers, and a plan for supporting employers with recruitment and retention’.

Though the focus for the immediate future should be to ‘fairly reward the existing workforce, with an eye to recruitment and retention, by creating parity with similar roles in the NHS’, the report added.

Report co-author and general secretary of the Fabian Society Andrew Harrop said that this plan was ‘an ambitious roadmap for solving one of the country’s most significant and enduring social challenges’.

‘The Fabian Society’s plan works for everyone who needs support or care now or who may do in the future. But vitally, it is also a blueprint that works for the under-valued care workforce and for our huge army of unpaid family carers.’

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson confirmed that the government has not considered bringing forward any proposals for a National Care Service.

The spokesperson added: ‘We are fully committed to our 10-year vision to reform adult social care, and recently published our Next Steps to put People at the Heart of Care plan – setting out how we are spending £700 million on adult social care reform over the next two years.

‘As part of this we have already allocated £250 million for the social care workforce to develop their skills and careers and fund new training schemes.’

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