Social care no deal preparations ramp up

Thursday 6th June 2019

The Scottish Government has begun surveying social care leaders to find out how well they might cope with shortages of vital supplies so ministers can understand how much support the sector would need if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Scottish Care, the representative body for voluntary and private social care providers, has been commissioned to carry out the research on the government’s behalf.

Chief executive Donald Macaskill says the current study is part of a process to “ensure that planning and preparedness is as robust as it can be.”

“Scottish Care is grateful for the support of Scottish Government in recognising the particular challenges that are potentially going to be faced by the care sector should we see a no deal EU exit,” he added.

The Scottish Government is calling on UK ministers to "categorically" rule out leaving Europe without a withdrawal agreement in place, warning a no deal poses a "significant threat" to the health and social care sector.

Scottish Care has previously said a no deal departure could lead to up to 18 weeks of disturbance and said its members should consider building up reserves of medical supplies.

Leading contenders for the Conservative leadership say they will take the UK out of the EU without a deal if no agreement has been reached by the 31st October 2019 deadline, rather than seek another extension to the Article 50 process.

Care sector leaders and managers will be asked to outline their contingency plans and set out their concerns in three separate surveys over the coming months.

The first, being sent out by Scottish Care this week, deals with clinical consumables that organisations use to care for people such as cleaning, hygiene and incontinence products.

Amid worries disruption at UK borders caused by a no deal departure could see deliveries of these essentials delayed or cancelled, care managers across Scotland will be asked about the strategies they have in place to cope with shortages.

Scotland’s health secretary, Jeane Freeman, has previously described Brexit as the “single biggest issue” hampering social care recruitment.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Uncertainty around a no deal Brexit continues to pose a significant threat to the health and social care sector, both in terms of the supply of medicines and critical goods and the impact which the loss of freedom of movement will have on the  recruitment and retention of staff. This is why the UK Government should categorically rule out such an outcome now.

“As a responsible government, we are working with a wide range of local and national organisations to support contingency planning in the health and social care sector in response to the possibility of a ‘no deal’ EU exit but we cannot mitigate all the risks EU exit presents.”