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Social care tax hikes: Who will take care of our elderly if careworkers jump ship to work for Amazon?

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Care workers are quitting to become Amazon warehouse pickers and for other better-paid jobs in a growing staffing crisis which operators now warn could leave 170,000 vacancies by the end of the year, the Guardian reported.

The shift of skilled care workers to the online retail giant could be exacerbated if health and social care workers employed by the NHS do not see work or salary conditions improve. If they are also hit with a national insurance tax hike, which could be announced as early as this week, they may not be able to afford their essentials such as travel, housing and food if they stay employed in social care.

Regarding talk of raising taxes in some capacity to pay for social care, a split appeared to have formed between senior Cabinet ministers over how much to raise national insurance by, with suggestions it could be as high as 2%.

Sir John Major, speaking at the FT Weekend Festival, said: “The government are going to have to take action to deal with social care and that is going to mean an increase in taxation.

“I don’t think they should use national insurance contributions, I think that’s a regressive way of doing it. I would rather do it in a straightforward and honest fashion and put it on taxation.”

In a further blow to the care sector, NHS figures published over the past week revealed slowing rates of double Covid vaccination among care home staff, with 87,000 in England still not fully jabbed. From November, they will have to be fully vaccinated against the virus in order to carry out frontline work.

Underlining the struggle to recruit and retain staff amid a broader UK-wide labour shortage, a care home manager told the Guardian that Amazon’s new warehouse in Nottinghamshire was luring staff with 30% more pay.

One care worker told the Guardian that while she loved her job and does not want to leave, she can work three days a week and earn more.

“Society doesn’t value the work being done in social care.”

New body to tackle health disparities to launch in October

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer

A new Office for Health Improvement and Disparities to officially launch on 1st October

The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) will officially launch on 1 October with the aim of tackling health inequalities across the country. It will be co-led by newly appointed Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO), Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy.

The OHID will be a vital part of the Department of Health and Social Care and will drive the prevention agenda across government to reduce health disparities, many of which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and improve the public’s health.

  • Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy has been appointed as the new Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England and will co-lead the new body alongside Director General, Jonathan Marron
  • Health disparities across nation to be reduced by tackling top risk factors for poor health

The OHID will be a vital part of the Department of Health and Social Care and will drive the prevention agenda across government to reduce health disparities, many of which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and improve the public’s health.

Health disparities across the UK are stark – for example, a woman living in Blackpool will on average live 16 fewer years in good health than a woman born in Brent, London and we know someone’s ethnicity can have a significant bearing on their health and health outcomes.

Health disparities can undermine people’s ability to work and live long healthy independent lives while creating pressure on the NHS, social care and other public services.

Ill-health amongst working-age people alone costs the economy around £100 billion a year and it’s estimated that 40% of health care provision in the UK is being used to manage potentially preventable conditions.

The new body will tackle the top preventable risk factors for poor health, including obesity caused by unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption. It will work across the health system to drive forward action on health disparities, including improving access to health services across the country and coordinate with government departments to address the wider drivers of good health, from employment to housing, education and the environment.

As the new DCMO for Health Improvement, Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy will advise the government on clinical and public health matters as the co-lead for OHID, alongside the DHSC Director-General for the OHID, Jonathan Marron. They will be under the professional leadership of the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid said:

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the disparities that exist within our country. We know the virus has had a greater impact on those with poorer health and we must ensure we give people the tools they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle, whilst relieving pressures on our NHS.

By focussing on preventing and not just treating poor health, the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities will tackle health disparities to break the link between people’s background and their prospects for a healthy life.

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer said:

“The Office will help inform a new cross-government agenda that will look to track the wider determinants of health and reduce disparities. The OHID will bring expert advice, data and evidence together with policy development and implementation to ensure action on improving health is better informed, more effective and more joined-up. It will bring together a range of skills to lead a new era of public health policies, leveraging modern digital tools, data and actuarial science and delivery experts.”

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