Leading representatives from the UK’s care sector have warned that the vote to leave the European Union could have serious consequences for the workforce in their sector.
While much has already been said about the potential impact on the NHS workforce from a Brexit, care home and home care providers are also at risk, it has been highlighted.
Thousands of overseas nurses have been drafted into the NHS to ease chronic staff shortages over recent years. Concerns that they may now feel unwelcome and turn their backs on the country in the wake of the referendum result, has prompted senior figures to state how much they are valued and appreciated.
Leaders from the National Care Forum and Care England have now echoed these sentiments for the large numbers of EU nurses and health and care assistants that their sector heavily relies on.
Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, the largest representative body for independent social care providers, said: “There has been much discussion about the fall out in the NHS.
“However, we need to remind politicians how vitally important the staff in social care are,” he said. “It is essential that regardless of their background they feel valued. Recruitment and retention are essential components of the health and social care system.”
Professor Green said he had met with senior officials from the Treasury yesterday to discuss the issue.
“Whilst we understand that the Treasury, and all other government departments, will be exercised by the implications of Brexit, it is important that they also pay attention to social care,” he said.
Care England said it would continue to “turn up the volume” on social care, noting that it “underpins” the sustainability of the NHS.
“The need to plan for anticipated change needs to start now”
In addition, National Care Forum executive director Vic Rayner said that, while the full impact of the vote to leave the EU was currently “unclear”, it would certainly have “far reaching and fundamental effects” on the provision of adult social care.
She suggested that 6% of the overall social care workforce in the UK were EU migrants, equivalent to around 80,000 staff.
“We know that this figure is significantly higher in different parts of the country and, therefore, the need to plan for anticipated change needs to start now,” she said.
“We know that residents will be concerned, both for the staff that they work with and in relation to their own status as EU nationals, and how this might affect the continuation of care that they receive,” said Ms Rayner.
She added that the news was already causing “substantial and ongoing shocks” to the financial markets, which might affect future investment and financing of the care sector.
BY STEVE FORD News Editor Nursing Times