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Health and social care workforce ‘must be Brexit priority’

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A group of key social care and health organisations have called on ministers to “safeguard the UK’s ability” to recruit and retain staff with the skills to deliver high quality care to local communities.

The Cavendish Coalition, which represents 34 organsations, including nursing unions, has responded to the triggering of Article 50 yesterday by writing to the government setting out “priority issues”.

“It is absolutely critical the government takes all possible measures to safeguard the supply of health and social care workers”

Danny Mortimer

These include the permanent right to remain in the UK for European Economic Area nationals working in the health and social care sector, sufficient transitional arrangements covering EU staff, and a future immigration system that supports health and social care provision.

The coalition said its letter (see attached document below) had set out what the government needed to focus on during EU withdrawal negotiations in order to “maintain safe, high quality health and social care services”.

“There are a number of unique factors which relate to the social care and health workforce, which are set out in the enclosed policy statement,” noted the coalition.

It said it wanted to work with the government to help create a future immigration system where public service value was used as a key assessment of “skill” as opposed to salary, and that guaranteed the status of EU staff already working in health and social care.

It added that it was also calling for a “straightforward and responsive” transitional system during the period between any “cut off” date after which EU nationals would no longer be guaranteed leave to remain in the UK, and having a new and operational immigration system.

Danny mortimer

Danny mortimer

Danny Mortimer

Danny Mortimer, Cavendish Coalition co-convener and chief executive of the organisation NHS Employers, which represents trusts, said: “It is absolutely critical that the government takes all possible measures to safeguard the supply of health and social care workers needed to continue delivering safe, high quality care.

“We are ready and available to support the government in a way which allows it to plan a future immigration system which assesses skill levels based on public service value, as opposed to salary,” he said.

“It is also vital that any transitional system provides clarity and certainty so that people entering the UK are clear on their status – as certainty supports stability and sustainability in health and social care,” said Mr Mortimer.

“Such a system must be flexible enough to allow social care and health to recruit from Europe when staffing needs cannot be met through additional domestic recruitment and training,” he added.

Yesterday, after triggering Article 50, prime minister Theresa May said she would prioritise securing the rights of EU nationals to stay in the UK in her negotiations with Europe.

Theresa May

Theresa May

Theresa May

In a statement in parliament, she also pledged to “make the UK a magnet for global talent”.

Ms May said: “We will seek to guarantee the rights of EU citizens who are already living in Britain, and the rights of British nationals in other member states as early as we can.

“We will ensure that workers’ rights are fully protected and maintained,” she said. “Indeed, under my leadership, not only will the government protect the rights of workers, we will build on them.

She added that she wanted to make the UK “a magnet for international talent and a home to the pioneers and innovators who will shape the world ahead”.

The Cavendish Coalition:

  • Association of Dental Groups, David Worskett, chair
  • Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, Margaret Willcox, president elect
  • Association of Independent Healthcare Organisations, Fiona Booth, chief executive
  • Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Professor Dame Sue Bailey DBE FRCPsych, chair
  • Association for Real Change, Lisa Lenton, England director
  • Association of UK University Hospitals, Peter Homa CBE, chair
  • British Dental Association, Peter Ward, chief executive
  • British Medical Association, Dr Mark Porter, council chair
  • Care England, Professor Martin Green OBE, chief executive
  • Care Forum Wales, Mario Kreft, chair
  • Care and Support Alliance, Vicky McDermott, chair
  • Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Karen Middleton CBE, chief executive
  • Mental Health Network, Rebecca Cotton, director of mental health policy
  • National Association of Primary Care, Dr Nav Chana, chair
  • National Care Association, Nadra Ahmed OBE, chair
  • New NHS Alliance, Merron Simpson, chief executive
  • NHS Clinical Commissioners, Julie Wood, chief executive
  • NHS Confederation, Niall Dickson, chief executive
  • NHS Employers, Daniel Mortimer, chief executive
  • NHS European Office, Elisabetta Zanon, director
  • NHS Partners Network, David Hare, chief executive
  • NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, chief executive
  • Northern Ireland Confederation for Health and Social Care, Heather Moorhead, director
  • Pharmacy Voice, Elizabeth Wade, director of policy
  • Registered Nursing Home Association, Frank Ursell, chief executive
  • Royal College of Nursing, Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary
  • Shelford Group, Sir Michael Deegan, chair
  • Skills for Care, Sharon Allen, chief executive
  • National Care Forum, Vic Rayner, executive director
  • The Royal College of Midwives, Professor Cathy Warwick CBE, chief executive
  • The Welsh NHS Confederation, Vanessa Young, director
  • UNISON, Christina McAnea, head of health
  • United Kingdom Homecare Association, Bridget Warr CBE, chief executive
  • Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, Professor Rhidian Hughes, chief executive
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