Combining efforts across the social care and health sectors is crucial to overcome the potential disruption caused by Brexit, Welsh authorities have stressed.
Speaking at a conference to support the Welsh social care sector in preparing for Brexit last week, Councillor Huw David, the Welsh Local Government Association spokesperson for Health and Social Care, stressed how all partners will have a key role to play to mitigate Brexit impacts for people who rely on health and social care services.
Jointly organised by WLGA, Welsh Government, The Association of Directors for Social Services Cymru (ADSS), Care Forum Wales, Social Care Wales and the Welsh NHS Confederation, the conference brought together practitioners, councillors and key stakeholders to discuss the potential impact of Brexit on the social care and health sector, the on-going work to prepare, and the further actions required.
Councillor Huw David (Bridgend) said: “It is clear that leaving the EU has the potential to cause disruption to the delivery of health and social services, as it will impact statutory duties, the workforce and supply lines. A disorderly no-deal Brexit would only further exacerbate the situation and the concerns of residents in receipt of social care.
“I am so pleased to see so many representatives from local authorities, our key partners and practitioners coming together at this event to discuss how we can all contribute to mitigate some of the potential impacts of Brexit. The period ahead undoubtedly poses many challenges to the delivery of health and social care; working together will be crucial to overcome the difficulties and to maintain the provision of highquality care expected by residents.”
Also speaking at the conference, Vaughan Gething AM, Welsh Government Minister for Health and Social Services said that maintaining high quality health and social care was his “top priority” in preparing for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.
“Given the continued lack of clarity from the UK government regarding our future relationship with the EU, we must continue to prepare our public services for all eventualities. That is why it is so vital that health and social care leaders have come together today to assess and address the challenges we may face and how we can collectively work together to mitigate their impact.”
Vanessa Young, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation said: “Health and social care leaders have been working closely with the Welsh Government to prepare for a no deal Brexit scenario. Our priority is to protect patients and clients and maintain high quality services. Through UK, national and local plans we are putting in place arrangements to ensure the continuity of supply of medicines, clinical consumables used by the health and social care sector.”
ADSS Cymru lead director for Workforce, Jonathan Griffiths, said his organisation welcomes Ipsos Mori, a market research company, to understand the impact of Brexit on the social care workforce in Wales.
“While we anticipate that there will be some limited impact, with the employment of EU nationals in our sector, it’s just one element of the wider challenges of workforce recruitment and retention that all public stakeholders are grappling with.
“The current development of a national workforce strategy for health and social care will go a significant way in mitigating the many variable pressures on the sector, to ensure Wales has a resilient, healthy and well-trained workforce in the future.”
Sue Evans, chief executive of Social Care Wales, said: “We are currently working with the Welsh Government and other partners to better understand the impact of Brexit. Social care in Wales faces recruitment and retention challenges, and this may become more challenging if EU workers are not able or choose not to stay and work in Wales.
“Health and social care organisations are developing joint recruitment plans to reduce the impact of Brexit, and we are currently working with regional bodies to lead a national attraction, recruitment and retention campaign. We are hoping these activities will reduce the risk of further workforce challenges to ensure those who need care and support can rely on a consistent response across Wales.”