Third of public sector care workers leaving each year

Care workers had the lowest one-year retention rates across all public sector occupations in 2016/17, Office of National Statistics figures show. 

From 2016 to 2017, the UK workforce one-year retention rate was 83% and the public sector rate was 84%.

However, care workers in the public sector had a below-average retention rate of 67%.

The research found the police had the highest retention rate in the public sector, with 94% remaining in post between 2016 and 2017. They were followed by nurses and midwives, and heads of educational establishments; both occupations had retention rates of 92%.

Across the workforce, most of the larger public sector occupations saw a fall in their one-year retention rate, between 2012 to 2013 and 2016 to 2017.

A noticeable fall in the one-year retention rate was seen in public sector care workers – from 79% to 67% over that period.

The analysis said this could be due to more care workers being contracted to the private sector.

Heads of educational establishments bucked the trend. In 2012 to 2013, 82% of heads were retained and this rose to 92% in 2016 to 2017.

Anna Bodey, statistician at Office of National Statistics, said: ‘Most of the larger public sector occupations, including doctors, nurses and midwives, and primary school teachers, have a one-year retention rate above the UK workforce average. One-year retention rates in the public sector were lower in 2016 to 2017 than they were in 2012 to 2013, with the biggest fall in rate for social workers and public sector care workers.’

GMB, the union for public sector workers, said the figures for care workers was disturbing.

Rehana Azam, GMB National secretary, said the sector was ‘in the midst of a staffing crisis’, with professionalisation of the workforce needed.