Care homes are facing a staffing crisis because of Brexit and workers deserting the industry for better paid jobs.
The Sunday Mail can reveal a shortfall of 17,000 staff is expected by the end of the year across the care industry in Scotland.
Hundreds of employees are leaving for higher wages elsewhere.
The chairman of one of Scotland’s leading care home firms said vacancies are growing and demanded the UK Government relax immigration laws to avert a looming crisis.
Robert Kilgour, whose Renaissance Care firm has 16 homes in Scotland and employs 1200 staff, said: “We currently have 76 unfilled vacancies across the business, and that is high as a percentage.
“There is a staffing problem and it is going to become a crisis if we don’t get action from government to allow more care workers into the country.”
Last week we found supermarket jobs in all Scotland’s main cities offering higher pay than care homes.
Annemargaret Black, chief officer at Clackmannanshire and Stirling Health and Social Care Partnership told a board meeting last week: “Social care staff are going into hospitality and supermarkets so we are going to other providers where they are paying more wages, so that’s been pretty challenging.”
Trade union GMB Scotland’s secretary Louise Gilmour said: “The majority of care staff are mired in wages of less than £10 an hour, and the sector is facing 170,000 vacancies across the UK by the end of the year, so the problem is blatantly obvious.”
About 17,000 of those vacancies are expected to be in Scotland
Labour’s health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “The only way this crisis can be resolved in the long term is by properly rewarding our care workers with £15 an hour.”
The SNP’s Social Care Minister Kevin Stewart blamed the UK Government for the lack of workers.
He said: “The Home Secretary has delayed making a decision on roles that should be on the shortage occupation list which means that social care roles don’t qualify for the Health and Care Visa.
“We need non-UK citizens to work in our economy and to help provide our vital health and social care services.”