Nearly half of all care services in Scotland reported having vacancies at the end of 2021, according to a new report published by the Care Inspectorate and the Scottish Social Services Council.

The ‘Staff vacancies in care services 2021’ report provides data on vacancies reported by care services as at 31 December 2021. It shows the number of registered care services with a vacancy, the number of actual vacancies that services say they had using whole time equivalent (WTE) data, and data on the reasons why services have reported that vacancies are hard to fill.

Key Points

Staff vacancies:

  • The percentage of care services reporting vacancies increased to its highest level since these statistics were first published for the year 2016. At 31 December 2021, 47% of services reported vacancies. The percentage of care services reporting vacancies increased by 11 percentage points over the last year.
  • Care homes for older people, housing support services, care at home services, care homes for adults, care homes for children and young people, secure accommodation services and residential special school care accommodation services all had a proportion of services with vacancies significantly above the national average for all care services.
  • East Dunbartonshire, Edinburgh and Aberdeen had a significantly higher proportion of services with vacancies than the national average for all care services.
  • At 31 December 2021, the rate of WTE vacancies for all services in Scotland was 8.1% up from 5.1% in 2020.
  • Nurse agency services and childcare agency services had a significantly higher rate of WTE vacancies than the national average.
  • Nursing vacancies:
  • At 31 December 2021, 60% of services reported having nursing vacancies (where services employed nurses). This was an increase of 14 percentage points on the proportion of services with vacancies at 31 December 2020 (46%).
  • At 31 December 2021, the rate of WTE nursing vacancies for all services (where services employed nurses) in Scotland was 16.2%, up from 8.0% in 2020.
  • Problems filling vacancies and reasons given:
  • At 31 December 2021, 58% of services with vacancies reported having problems filling them; up 15 percentage points from the previous year.
  • Too few applicants in general (60%), too few applicants with experience (57%), and too few qualified applicants (50%) were the most common themes within most service types that reported problems filling vacancies.

Jackie Irvine, Chief Executive of the Care Inspectorate, said: “This report is produced annually and helps us, the Scottish Government, regulators and others to monitor the size and stability of the workforce, raise awareness of the challenges the sector faces and consider how we can provide support.  As a society and a country, we need to properly recognise and reward social service workers with beneficial terms and conditions and proper investment.”

Maree Allison, Acting Chief Executive of the Scottish Social Services Council, said: We continue to highlight the need for fair work, fair terms and conditions, and an effective voice for the workforce. Both our organisations are closely involved in work to support the development and implementation of the National Care Service.  We strongly welcome the ongoing debates about the value of care, its workforce and how it is funded. We will continue to play our part in promoting this.”

The full report can be read here.

Contact Information

Care Inspectorate Media 

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