The staffing crisis in care is so acute, stressed workers are “having heart attacks”.
Home care provider Sophia Harris said colleagues had had heart attacks and strokes.
And she revealed how she had also suffered a suspected heart attack herself, aged just 42.
Sophia, whose carers look after 50 patients in the East Midlands, said: “I’ve got staff on their knees picking up ridiculous amounts of shifts. The sickness levels are immense. Many are leaving.
“It is the same for every provider across the country.”
She called for carers to be recognised as skilled workers, explaining: “Carers deal with medication, they take abuse. It can be heartbreaking.”
Her calls were supported by Nicola Richards of the Sheffield Care Association.
Nicola, who runs two care homes in South Yorkshire, said: “We have got winter looming and I fear we are not going to be able to provide the care for people.
“We have lost staff throughout the pandemic. We are having people not turning up for interviews, not picking up the phone.
“Firms are handing back contracts to the local authorities because they cannot fulfil them.
“I know there are other staffing shortages in other occupations but the difference is that we are dealing with people’s lives.”
Nicola said Brexit had a role in the crisis, as did the fact that only senior carers and nurses can be recruited from overseas.
She added: “I have lost 17 to 19% of my staff since last April.”
Rehana Azam, of the GMB, said: “The levy for the NHS and social care must include ring-fenced cash for the workers who keep things running.
“We have 75,000 vacancies in the NHS and are facing 170,000 staffing black hole in care.”