Healthcare sector talks Brexit in Parliament

26 October 2017

Professor Paula Kersten, Head of the School of Health Sciences and Professor of Rehabilitation, University of Brighton 

This week I was privileged to represent the Council of Deans of Health together with Katerina Kolyva, the Council’s Chief Executive, at a parliamentary reception in Westminster Palace focused on the impact of Brexit on health and social care. The reception was hosted by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, a Welsh doctor, professor of palliative medicine, an Independent Crossbench member and president of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. She hosted the reception on behalf of the Cavendish Coalition, which is a group of health and social care organisations, including the Council, that aims to influence and lobby on post-EU referendum matters.

The reception started with a few brief speeches by Baroness Finlay, Nadra Ahmed (Chair of the National Care Association and co-convener of the Coalition), and Dr Philippa Whitford SNP MP for Central Ayrshire. There was also a presentation on the research the Coalition has commissioned on the early impact of Brexit on the health and care workforce. Although the slide presentation was perhaps not best suited to this sort of environment it presented some data of real concern and that will be extremely useful for us all when lobbying on these issues.

I was particularly impressed by Philippa’s speech. She suggested that the Coalition members had been too quiet about Brexit, that there may still be a chance that we can avert Brexit, and of the huge importance of sharing personal stories about the impact on people. Here she gave an example of two local doctors from Germany who have worked in Scotland for 20 years and have made this their home. The uncertainty about Brexit has led them to seriously consider returning home, though if they leave that too late they may no longer be eligible for comprehensive health insurance back home. She impressed upon us that all of us will be affected in so many ways, for example when cancer drugs might no longer be available or slow to come to the market. Katerina and I spoke with her during the reception and discussed how we can better influence those people we really need to influence. She reinforced the importance of using personal stories that people can identify with and to engage with our local MPs, especially in marginal seats. She certainly energised me in doing this, and it is on my to do list as we speak!

We also connected with a number of colleagues from other organisations, such as Catherine Pope, Chair of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy; Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives; Katie Petty-Saphon, Chief Executive of the Medical Schools Council; colleagues from the RCN; Danny Mortimer, Chief Executive of NHS Employers; and colleagues from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. I also managed to speak with one of Shadow Secretary of State for Health Jonathan Ashworth MP’s advisors and explained the value of mutual recognition of professional qualifications and in/outward mobility for students and academic staff.

All in all this was a really useful event, and in a fabulous setting of course.

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