Brexit could heighten social care staff crisis

Social care web

A range of health charities have expressed fears about the impact of leaving the European Union

10th May 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Health and social care charities have expressed their fears about leaving the European Union.

A report prepared by the Scottish Parliament’s health committee has revealed the wide ranging concerns that Brexit could create for the nation’s health.

Organisations such as Cancer Research UK, Ash Scotland and the Association of Medical Research Charities were among those who attended an inquiry which was used to prepare the report, which examines how to avoid damaging health services in Scotland.

The committee agreed that although the impact on health and social care in Scotland is difficult to predict, it wanted to identify potential risks and consider how they would be mitigated.

Experts said they feared any changes in immigration policy could further heighten staffing crisis in social care.

A representative from Scottish Care noted: "The current recruitment and retention crisis facing social care in Scotland must not be made worse by any system of migration that deters or presents undue barriers and obstacles to those who may wish to come to nurse or care in Scotland.”

Alongside any direct implications for the sector, there could be further issues if NHS funding is cut as a result of economic downturn.

The British Medical Association told the committee there is already a growing gap between demand for social care services and the resources to deliver them, which could be further exacerbated after Brexit.

Concerns were raised about the prospect of Scots who receive free care in other parts of the European Union returning, with caring for them resulting in a bill of up to £500 million.

Ash Scotland and Alcohol Focus said that leaving the European Union could present opportunities to further implement minimum pricing and restrictions, however new trade agreements could weaken current safeguards.

The committee also heard that research workers are already choosing to work elsewhere – with the British Heart Foundation reporting that 80% of the EU researchers whom it funds are considering moving their careers outside the UK.

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) recently launched its EU are Valued campaign, which aims to protect the rights of EU third sector workers. The organisation’s director of public affairs John Downie said he hoped Westminster will act on the committee’s findings.

He said: "Since the EU referendum, many of SCVO's members have been vocal about the impact of Brexit on Scotland's third sector - perhaps none more so than those operating in fields relating to health and social care.

"The referendum only offered voters a binary choice over EU membership and issues like medical research, the rights of disabled people, NHS staffing, early access to medicines and the caring role provided by EU nationals were too often overlooked.

"The work and recommendations of the committee shine new light on these crucial matters and offer concrete proposals to ensure we are able to continue providing care, support and dignity for all."

Lewis Macdonald MSP, convener of the committee, said that the Scottish Parliament’s role of scrutinising plans to safeguard the interests of staff and patients would go on.