North Yorkshire Council calls on highways staff to volunteer for care roles

Care home picture
North Yorkshire Council is asking people working in 'non-critical' positions to volunteer for care roles Credit: PA

Highways and planning workers at a Yorkshire council could be asked to take on social care roles to to ease staffing shortages caused by Covid-19.

North Yorkshire County Council has asked those in back office roles in "non-critical services" to be prepared to step in.

Volunteers will be asked to cook, clean, and help older people to eat, as well as assist them to speak to relatives on the phone or online.

The council said training will be given and it will match new duties with workers' normal working patterns.

Richard Flinton, who chairs the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum, said: "We believe putting our workforce on an emergency footing in this way is vital to ensuring our partners in the NHS can function, enabling patients to be discharged from hospital into care settings as needed and freeing up beds for people waiting to be admitted.

"These emergency plans will only be used if needed but will hopefully provide sufficient volunteers to get us through the Omicron wave which may see as much as a 40% reduction in available care staff due to illness or self-isolation."

The council says cases have been surging across the region since the turn of the year, with more than 2,400 people with Covid-19 in hospitals in Yorkshire and the North East – the highest figure since February.

It added that there are about 90,000 people in North Yorkshire and York who meet the eligibility criteria for a booster jab but have not yet received the top-up vaccine.

The union Unison said the situation in the care sector was at "crisis levels".

Senior national officer Gavin Edwards said: "Long before the pandemic, social care had massive staff shortages.

"Now the situation is at crisis levels, with the sector struggling to operate safely and using untrained staff from other public services."