This week will bring the start of five days of parliamentary debate on the Draft Withdrawal Agreement from the EU. As this update is being written, there are amendments flying around to address deal or no deal, referendum or no referendum and endless interviews with politicians being asked about whether they will vote for or against what is being firmly described as ‘the Prime Ministers’ deal.
So – in the wake of all of that – how could we fail to talk more about Brexit in this update? As, whilst the politicians are busy doing their thing, we are moving closer to the 29 March, and with uncertainty still prevailing, it is key members ramp up their own thinking in relation to how these various scenarios are likely to impact on social care services.
Following the publication of the draft withdrawal agreement in November, various committees have been analysing its impact. The Health and Social Care Select Committee has produced this valuable document which outlines the impact of Brexit on the sector in the context of No Deal, Implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, Triggering of the NI Backstop and a future relationship based on the arrangements in the withdrawal agreement. This looks at all these key areas such as workforce, financing, medical supplies, research and many more areas of key interest. What becomes crystal clear from this document – were it not already clear from the various reports and discussions of this committee – the implications of any sort of Brexit arrangement have a significant long term impact on health and care. And in the event of No Deal, a very immediate instant impact.
The temptation to wait and see in relation to Brexit has, I know, remained strong for many. Without knowing what we are moving towards, it has been difficult to plan. However, what this document gives you now is a framework against which to understand the various potential implications.
As the grounds are drawn up for a TV debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, and the pressure mounts for the publication of the legal advice the government received in relation to the withdrawal agreement, members should be looking a little closer to home to determine what plans have been made in their locality for the implementation of Brexit.
First stop could be your local MP.
Asking the question about what local preparations have been put in place to support the social care system in operating in a frictionless manner post 29 March 2019. Having seen the select committee listing, what are the areas of most concern for you, and how can your MP support you in ensuring the care and support of local constituents is fulfilled after the UK exits the EU.
The next move would be to make enquiries of your commissioning authority to identify the actions it has taken; if these have not yet involved you, how is it planning to connect with the local care community to ensure there are not blocks and breaks in the system.
Local authorities are required by law to have a series of localised plans, often referred to as ‘emergency plans’ in place to deal a wide range of . These plans should be publicly available, and it is important that you review them to understand what sort of areas they are covering, and to consider how, if at all, you might be connected into them.
For example, when looking at my local plan, I can see much of the focus around health and social care is centred on a public health response, and wide ranging expectations around connecting with vulnerable people. On reading that, you could immediately be determining how strong the public health’s team connection is with social care, and raising questions in relation to how the public body is planning to connect with people who are not publicly funded or connected to statutory services, but continue to receive care and support.
In addition, you might find the plan looks also at potentially relevant issues such as fuel shortages, and you will want to ask how the implications of this on home care services are specifically acknowledge or addressed.
Finally, you might find there have been specific committee papers looking at the ‘resilience’ of the local community to the impacts of Brexit.
Do these reports adequately reflect the questions or concerns you may have as a provider of social care? If not, now really is the time to get asking those questions as whilst the political and media attention boils on, 29 March draws ever closer and it is imperative the people who receive care and support are firmly on the agenda at a national and local level…