How might the UK referendum on Brexit affect Health and social care in the UK?

As we approach the referendum on the UK remaining in the European Union (EU) it is a good time to assess the merits of each side of the argument for health and social care.

The dominant argument both for and against remaining in the EU centres on recruitment of those that work in social care.  It is estimated that the care sector provides for approximately 11m people within care homes and in their own homes. A workforce of 1.5m care workers care for these individuals and 0.3m of these were not born in the UK.  Remain campaigners would have us believe that if we left the EU all of those carers not born in the UK would be expelled but there is no guarantee that this would be the case. Also interestingly we don’t have the figures for the proportion of those carers not born in the UK but that are from Europe.

If we left the EU our arrangements for free movement across the Eurozone would have to change and this could have a large impact on our ability to attract EU carers into the country.

There is the argument that if we were to leave the EU then we would be able to potentially treat non EU workers more favourably than they currently are. It could see a relaxation of pro-European migration policies in favour of a more balanced approach to those workers coming to the UK from further afield.

Whether we remain in the EU or not there are a great number of issues that affect the provision of health and social care in the UK. Recruitment of workers is one of them; ensuring that providers are paid enough to ensure that they have a workable business model is another- some might say more important domestic issue.

Choosing to leave the EU presents a leap into the unknown with a largely hypothetical debate surrounding the future implications. For health and social care in the UK the most pressing issue can be tackled domestically with social care being treated more fairly when looking at commissioning and support for the sector.

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