Possibilities to certainties

I am hoping by the time you read this, you will have already heard that a new coalition is in town – the Cavendish Coalition.  Although saying that so far media coverage has been… subtle, shall we say?!

ARC was invited to join this coalition a few weeks ago and yesterday marked the official launch. So what is it all about? It is a newly formed group consisting of 29 health and social care organisations, convened by Danny Mortimer, Chief Executive of NHS Employers. We have been brought together to collaborate on a common goal; essentially to secure the status of EU staff working in the health and social care sector in the UK following the Brexit decision.

The coalition is made up of some well known names actually; the British Medical Association, Royal College of Nursing, Care England, UK Home Care Association, Skills for Care, Unison, and ADASS to name a few. I am pleased to say we too are on that list, and rightly so.

The coalition is UK wide, saying that, all partners within it are mindful of the political sensitivities at play in terms of what Brexit may mean for the UK and the 4 nation countries within it. We are committed to secure the workforce required to deliver continuing and sustainable quality in the health and social care sector. The way we will do this is outlined in the media release, which you may have seen. It is broken down in to 3 key areas, click the link for the full statement. We know all too well that there is a huge shortage of staff within health and social care (I could go on all day as to why but I won’t!). The statistics show that 9% of workers in social care and 5% of workers in health are from the EU. With this is in mind, it is crucial as the terms of our ‘divorce’ from Europe start to take shape (whenever that maybe?!) we have some protection in place for those valuable workers and contributors, to remain indefinitely. If we don’t it will be yet another blow to our fragile sector and the recruitment and retention issue will be amplified even further. Providers need to be able to recruit with confidence and existing workers need to know they are welcome, wanted and needed. We need to know that the domestic supply of staff, as well as the potential to tap in to the international workforce is protected.

Our work has already started. The coalition has already submitted evidence to a cross-party inquiry, called ‘British Future’, chaired by MP Gisela Stuart, which will look at the options for guaranteeing the status of EU nationals who are currently living in the UK. We know our work will be a long-term endeavour and there will be no resolution overnight, but it is one we are committed to. Working with partners in and outside the coalition will be beneficial to tackle and reduce xenophobia as well as promote greater equity between social care and health, all very welcome.

It is refreshing working with Danny (Mortimer), he is very respectful of the importance social care plays and is very keen to ensure that social care is as well represented in this coalition as health. We still have a lot of work to do though when it comes to the media. Channel 4 aired an interview with Danny on Wednesday evening. Although he spoke about Health AND Social Care working together on this issue, the tone from the news team focused very firmly on the impact on NHS. Disappointing. As we continue to promote the profile of social care, hopefully this coalition will add ‘fuel to our fire’ as it were.

Keep an eye out for any media attention that may be sparked over the coming days and weeks, I will of course keep you up to date with relevant developments. Join the conversation on Twitter at #CavendishCoalition.

The quality of support provided in social care is only as strong as its workforce, and we will be doing all we can to protect it.

As always if you have any questions or comments regarding our work, please do contact me.

Lisa Lenton

ARC England Director