Cavendish Coalition: tackling the #right2remain for health & care workers
We have read, written and talked much in recent years about the enormous pressures in our health and social care systems – pressures caused by increasing need as people live longer but are not always well; by public spending cuts; by the necessary expenses of modern, high-tech care; and, possibly most crucially of all, by shortages of staff. You can strip many things away but health and social care run on their people and you simply cannot do it without them.
There is much we don’t yet know about the implications of the vote to leave the EU. But one thing we do know is that an already over-stretched and in some places creaking health and care sector could be pushed to breaking point by the loss of the 144,000 of its existing staff who are EU nationals. And that’s ignoring their much-needed place in the workforce of the future. The contribution made by our EU and global colleagues is of course much more than just numbers – bringing new skills and great talent, different experiences and huge cultural richness too. The TUC has previously flagged up the potential negative impacts that Brexit could have on the NHS, including staffing.
So what can be done?
Against this background a new coalition of 29 (and growing) health and social care organisations has come together to form the Cavendish Coalition, launched this week. On a mission to ensure sustainable workforce supply and thereby maintain excellent standards of care, the coalition brings into one group bodies representing, amongst others, professional bodies and royal colleges, unions, employers, acute hospitals and primary care, care homes, and skills and learning organisations. An ambitious initiative, the coalition is committed to bringing its many different skills and interests to bear on this crucial issue.
The coalition is united in its belief that EU citizens working in the UK’s social care and health sectors should have the right to remain and has made the following commitments:
- to seek certainty for those EU citizens already working in the UK health and social care sectors that they will have the right to remain here;
- to support economic and social health through the creation of training and employment opportunities; and
- to promote employment policy and practice that ensures that the UK continues to be able to attract vital skills into health and social care.
In pursuit of these aims, the coalition has made the tackling of xenophobia and hate crime against all, whether health and care staff or others, one of its top priorities. Following some appalling examples of this in the early days after the referendum, the NHS was one of the first sectors to signal a zero tolerance position, with its #loveourEUstaff campaign.
As to whether this new group can achieve what it aspires to, well the proof of the pudding must be in the eating of course. But, after two meetings with some clear, focused discussion, I am feeling optimistic. The Coalition has already submitted evidence to a British Future inquiry into how the #right2remain would work, as the TUC has also.
It is a coalition of the willing certainly; it stands ready to bring its broad and considerable skills and experience to bear on these vital issues and, I believe, will be able to achieve together what would not be possible if all the parties were working alone.