Staffing shortages in occupational therapy continue to burden frontline staff

Staffing shortages in occupational therapists continues to burden frontline staff, with 11.3% of council occupational therapist posts vacant since September 2022. 


This marks a 8.9% increase from the year before, according to data from Skills For Care.


Turnover rate also rose to 14.4% in the year to September 2022, which is 12% higher than the year prior. 


We have also seen sickness absence climb from 7.6 days per year in 2020-21 to 9.1 days in 2021-22.


Between 2021-22, the average salary for local authority OTs dropped by 6.7% down to £38,900 in September last year – illustrating the effects of inflation first-hand. 


Lauren Walker, RCOT Professional Adviser, commented: 


“We know occupational therapists working in social care are dealing with significant staff shortages, with over two-thirds of respondents in our recent workforce survey indicating they are in teams that are not fully staffed.


“Those staff left behind are experiencing increasing workloads and significant stress which is having an impact on their own mental and physical wellbeing,” she added.


“Whilst the government has spoken of the need to address this workforce challenge, the solutions coming forward are merely sticking plasters when it is clear that more fundamental reform of social care is required.


“Last year we laid out a roadmap to solving the workforce crisis which included placing a greater focus on OTs and the contribution they can make to meeting the rehabilitation challenge and also in tackling delayed discharge.


“We also spoke of the need to focus on the reasons why people are leaving the social care workforce such as pay, flexible working patterns, workplace culture and the lack of parity with colleagues working in the NHS. As these figures so clearly demonstrate there remains a significant recruitment challenge and we need to be doing more to encourage people from all backgrounds to train as a care professional.”


Why are the number of vacancies increasing? 


Healthcare staff have been under immense pressure over the last year, as a result of long delays in urgent and emergency care


Councils are also having to meet difficult targets in terms of speeding up hospital discharges and giving people access to the rehabilitative services they need, before they can return home safely. 


In turn, both social care workers and OTs are being stretched.


Here at Amaré Health, we help support Local Authorities and NHS Trusts by providing the highest quality candidates, all of whom are vetted to meet framework standards. 


Get in touch today on 0203 929 4017 to find out more about our services.