Older people in Scotland voiced their worries around availability of medicines and the continuation of various EU funded support networks. Alongside this there are serious concerns about the retention of EU Nationals who play a vital role in the delivery of health and social care for older people. The Health and Social Care Alliance looked into the effects faced by older people in Scotland. Using sessions in town halls they were able to hear and record what many older people in Scotland are thinking about in regards to Brexit.
Following on from various Health and Social Care Alliance run Town Hall conversations at the beginning of 2018 with the general public, the Alliance conducted further primary research to specifically explore the potential impact of Brexit on older people in Scotland. Collaborating with the International Foundation for Integrated Care and Scottish Care, this second strand of the consultation sought to gain a deeper understanding of older people’s views. The following key themes from the research emerged:
- Health and Social Care impacts;
- Rights and Regulation;
- Finance and Funding;
- Identity; and
- Young People.
A feeling of deep uncertainty crept into every discussion, regardless of the question that had been asked, echoing comments from the Health and Social Care Alliance’s earlier Town Hall Conversation events. People who engaged with the consultation said that they were very unsure how older people in Scotland would be affected by Brexit, specifically raising fears about the health and social care impacts faced by the older people community.
"I worry that pensions will be badly affected."
The report raises vital issues, and some of the following points emerged:
- Access generally to health and social care, particularly in rural areas;
- Concerns about recruitment and retention of staff in the Health and Social Care sector;
- “We need to know what the UK’s position is;” and
- “Employment rights could potentially be further eroded. Losing the working time directive could have a huge impact on our professional life.”
"People with long-term conditions will struggle as a result of reduced funding."
Scottish Government response to the issues raised
The Scottish Government shares the concerns about the effects of the UK exiting the EU on recruitment and retention of staff in the health and care sector that older people have raised. While the long-term implications of Brexit cannot be predicted precisely, very real and stark impacts have already been felt, with the Nursing and Midwifery Council reporting a massive decline in the number of registration applications from nurses and midwives from the European Economic Area and Switzerland over the years immediately following the EU referendum. Around 13,000 citizens from other EU nations currently work in health and social care in Scotland. We greatly value EU citizens and their wider contribution to our society, and we are working to ensure their rights and place in our nation are protected.