European health and care workers must be given the indefinite right to remain in the UK following the Brexit vote, a coalition of sector leaders has warned.
The newly-formed Cavendish Coalition is lobbying government ministers on post-referendum issues that affect social care and health, in a bid to guarantee the status of EU staff.
It’s made up of 29 health and care organisations, including the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, NHS Employers, the Royal College of Nursing, Unison, Skills for Care, and the Care Providers Alliance.
The UK voted to leave the European Union in June this year. Only EU nationals with a right to permanent residence (gained after living in the country for five years) have guaranteed future status. Other EU nationals will be subject to the negotiations on Brexit, which are still ongoing.
There are currently 144,000 people with EU nationality working in health and social care, approximately 80,000 of which are in adult social care. Both sectors already face staff shortages, with an estimated vacancy rate of 5.4% in adult social care, rising to 7.7% in domiciliary care services, according to figures published by Skills for Care last year.
The coalition aims to develop “a robust evidence base”, which will influence government policy and ensure a sustainable workforce and high standards of care are maintained.
Its work will focus on the following three areas:
- Creating opportunities for training and employment.
- Promoting employment policy and practice that ensures the UK can still attract people with the right skills from Europe and around the world to work in health and social care.
- Advocating for the right of current health and social care staff from the European Economic Area (EEA) to remain in the UK.
Sharon Allen, chief executive of Skills for Care, and Frank Ursell, chair of the Care Providers Alliance, said in a joint statement: “With around 80,000 jobs filled by workers with EU nationality who make a valued contribution to adult social care in England, employers and their workers are uncertain of the impact of the decision to leave.
“All the adult social care organisations who have signed up to this coalition can use their knowledge to help British Future [think-tank] inform the post-Brexit decision making process to ensure that millions of our communities, and their families and carers, can continue to access quality social care and health provision.”