A report by Scottish Care has revealed that care home providers are paying up to £1,000 per shift for agency nurses to cover rotas – with care providers more reliant on agency staff to fill holes in staffing than ever before.
The report claims that a third of nursing posts in care homes are vacant, and providers are struggling to fill positions.
Dr Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care, has called for measures to be introduced to fill positions, highlighting the agency fees as “unsustainable”.
“Last year we reported that we were facing a significant challenge in relation to the shortage of nurses working in our care homes,” said Macaskill. “Despite strenuous efforts, matters have got even worse in 2017 and we are now at the stage of many care homes being placed at real risk in terms of their survival.
“Paying exorbitant agency fees to plug a continuing gap is wholly unsustainable. Urgent short-term measures are needed, and require us to work with Scottish Government and other partners to find solutions to this challenge.”
91 organisations representing 317 care homes responded to the report, with 85% from private organisations and 15% from voluntary providers such as charities.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “Although more can still be done, significant progress has been made, including action to enhance the care home setting for student nurses and staff.
“There’s been a 4.7% increase in nursing and midwifery intakes for 2017-18 – the fifth successive rise.
“To meet projected requirements, we are creating an estimated 2,600 extra training places over the next four years as part of a wider package to recruit newly-qualified nurses and midwives and to retain existing nurses.”