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Brexit - Deal or No Deal - Implications for the Care Industry

Deal or No Deal - Brexit Implications for the Care Industry

Spending so much time in your care homes and with care home owners and managers, we can see and feel the rising tide of concern over the potential implications of Brexit – whichever version we end up with!

Although the EU has limited legal jurisdiction over how health and care services are organised and provided in member states, the UK’s vote to leave the EU will have major implications for health and social care in England.

Whether a No Deal option sees us crashing out of the European single market and the customs union, or Theresa May’s ‘compromise’ deal being accepted somehow in Parliament, either way current arrangements that play a vital role in the facilitating the delivery of healthcare via access to workforce and goods and services, is going to significantly change.    

Second because EU directives affect many areas of UK law that impact on the delivery of health and care services. Third, because the vote has ushered in a period of significant economic and political uncertainty at a time when the NHS and social care are already facing huge financial and operational pressures.

Two years of Brexit negotiations and all its ensuing media coverage have already had an impact, especially on the recruitment and retention of EU nationals in some parts of the workforce, which is contributing to shortages of key staff. 

The policy of freedom of movement and mutual recognition of professional qualifications within the EU means that many health and social care professionals currently working in the UK have come from other EU countries. This includes nearly 62,000 (5.6 per cent) of the English NHS’s 1.2 million workforce and an estimated 95,000 (around 7 per cent) of the 1.3 million workers in England’s adult social care sector (NHS Digital 2017; Skills for Care 2017). The proportion of EU workers in both the NHS and the social care sector has been growing over time, suggesting that both sectors have become increasingly reliant on EU migrants.

The care industry therefore welcomes the recent announcement that EU citizens currently living in the UK will be able to remain. We hope it will persuade as many of them as possible to stay and continue to make a valuable contribution to the health and care workforce.

Employers are being advised to make initial steps in refreshing all contracts, particularly right to work eligibility, with a longer term view to contract renewals at the point we leave the EU.

EU nationals will need to understand the impact of Brexit on their immigration status, and employers who rely on EU nationals will need to review and protect the stability of their business.

Employers are being advised to consider supporting and encouraging early applications for permanent residence from those employees who qualify

The UK’s membership of the European single market, customs union and Euratom has provided significant benefits. Securing equivalent access to new drugs and treatments must be a priority in the next phase of negotiations. 

The government has set an ambition for the UK to be a world leader in life sciences and medical research. To fulfil this ambition, it will be essential for the government to make good any loss in EU funding for research and development and that the UK continues to benefit from the collaboration of researchers and scientists across the EU. 

Perhaps most importantly, if independent forecasts are correct and more recently the Bank of England forecast that Brexit will have a significant long term negative impact on the economy, this will of course reduce the funding and resources for health and social care.

For ourselves, we are seeing a large number of price increases coming through already, an uncertainty in the global currencies resulting in a weaker buying position for us in some instances and overseas suppliers already looking for ‘UK’ contracts as opposed to EU based law. There is no doubt we have an unsteady ship to steer.

Authored BY MD Jayne Graves

5 Ways Brexit Could Effect Social Care…

Recent weeks have certainly been eventful for the UK in many ways, with the care industry featuring high on the list of hot topics.

Whilst it is too early to say what effect the referendum will have on the Care Industry, there is no doubt the vote for Brexit is having a huge effect on the UK’s currency and economy. Whilst this may or may not be a short term ‘knee jerk’ reaction by the markets we must be aware of and be preparing for the long term impacts of the Brexit on one of the country’s largest industries, the ‘Social Care Sector’.

1) Staffing

Brexit could potentially have a huge impact on this area, over 55000 of the NHS’s 1.3million staff members and 80000+ of the Adult Social Care workers are not UK born and hail from other EU countries.  Post Brexit these workers may be forced to return to their home nations leaving the UK with a massive staffing shortage with vacancy rates reported to be already at 5.4%.

The government will need to urgently clarify its position on EU national’s ability to work in the UK in the years after Brexit.  If not, the Care Sector will experience severe staffing shortages with major impacts on the Industries ability to provide the required high levels of care for our elderly.

2) Funding & Finance

The vote Leave campaign have been arguing that the EU was costing the UK £350 million per week, money they said could be pumped into the Care Sector and in particular the NHS.  Whilst the leading figures in the Leave campaign have moved to distance themselves from these claims post referendum there may well be additional funds allocated to boost the sector that would have otherwise gone to the EU.

3)  Government Policy Changes

During the pre-referendum campaign the chancellor said that if the UK were to vote for Brexit there would need to be further cuts to public spending.  Whilst these cuts may or may not happen the adult social care sector cannot afford to suffer any more cuts to already over stretched budgets.  Consequences of further cuts would likely include increased home closures and further cuts to vital NHS budgets both of which will have huge knock-on effects for the wider industry and its ability to cope with the demands placed upon it.

4) European Research and New Treatments

The EU has a vast system for surveillance and providing early warning of diseases including the rapid sharing of information and expertise in response to potential pandemics - will the UK still be part of this vital early warning system?

The EU has also been able to access and draw together talent and funding for significant scientific research into new drugs and treatment methods, something which no single nation would have been able to undertake independently, indeed according to the EU the UK itself has been the recipient of 8.8 Billion Euros for research and development. This kind of cooperation and flow of research funding and talent is vital and could be severely hampered by Brexit until new agreements can be established.

5)  Economic Devaluation

A number of industries have been effected by the economic and financial instability post the referendum result.  Continued uncertainty could effect the number of care homes being built across the UK with the obvious knock on effect of reduced care places and additional strain on home care services.

The devaluation of the British Pound will have continued effects for organisations who currently do and are looking to procure from abroad and in particular the European Union with prices likely to rise on a number of care critical products placing further strain on the finances of care institutions.

Conclusion

Whilst there is no doubt that the result of the referendum has left the UK in a state of uncertainty there is no way to tell the long term effect leaving Europe on the economy.  The issues identified in this article are just a small selection of the questions that remain unanswered and only time will prove how much or how little the result will have on the economy.