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Staffing crisis at council

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By Marc Mclean, Local Democracy Reporter
Staffing crisis at council

A staff shortage crisis has led to Dumfries and Galloway Council taking drastic action to recruit more frontline workers.

The local authority is facing a “significant number of workforce pressures across key, lifeline services”, pushing the council to the brink.

Retired staff are being invited back to work, while current employees are being offered more working hours – or a second job with the council.

Meanwhile, council and partner health board chiefs are so desperate to recruit more health and social care workers that the usual employment admin process will be cut from weeks down to 1-2 hours.

A series of recruitment roadshows are being organised, and it is also being proposed that the council spends up to £15,000 on a broad advertising campaign to spread the word about the job vacancies.

Councillors will discuss the staffing issue at the response, renewal and recovery committee next Tuesday.

A report produced for the meeting reads: “Staffing pressures have been exacerbated by consequence of Covid.

“This has led to a reduced workforce in both frontline and support services, increasing workloads, reducing levels of resilience and capacity to address challenges or deliver solutions.

“Many of these services directly support our most vulnerable communities and therefore the development of solutions is a priority.”

A workforce task group has been set up to address these challenges, and focus has been placed on filling vacancies across departments including roads and infrastructure, social work, education support, customer services, leisure and sport, revenues and benefits, homelessness, facilities management, and transportation.

The task group has identified a prioritised list of vacant posts which will be advertised and promoted through a targeted recruitment process in the coming weeks.

A pilot recruitment event has been scheduled for Monday, October 25 at the Bridge in Dumfries.

This will be followed by a series of recruitment roadshows in November at which candidates will be able to undertake a fast-track application and interview process.

Worryingly, the health and social care sector – run jointly by the council and NHS Dumfries and Galloway – does not have enough employees to deliver care at home packages.

The council report states: “Currently there is a significant amount of unmet care at home need in Dumfries and Galloway.

“Recruitment and retention of the staff required to deliver these care packages has been highlighted as the most significant challenge, whilst recognising that high levels of unmet need has an impact on the wider health and social care system, for example increasing the numbers of delayed discharges from hospitals.”

Following a special request from council chief executive Fiona Lees and health board chief executive Jeff Ace, another task group has been created specifically for increasing recruitment and retention within care at home services.