The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. The fear in the sector and among care users is palpable. A recent article in The Lancet, which backs up his points, states:
“All forms of Brexit involve negative consequences for the UK’s leadership and governance of health, in both Europe and globally”.
For me, that sums up the hon. Gentleman’s point exactly. I hope that he agrees.
We cannot get ourselves into a situation in which there is a barrier between the health and social care sector and that pool of labour. Age UK recently said that
“our care workforce is in no position to withstand the loss of good…care workers, wherever they come from.”
The King’s Fund said:
“Widespread and growing nursing shortages now risk becoming a national emergency and are symptomatic of a long-term failure in workforce planning, which has been exacerbated by the impact of Brexit and short-sighted immigration policies.”
The message from the sector to the Government is therefore clear and unambiguous: we simply cannot afford to cut ourselves off from the labour markets on which we have become so reliant and on which we will depend more and more in future. One look at the frontline of the health and social care sector and its delivery, and it is easy to see how heavily it depends on workers from outside the United Kingdom. Without access to those workers, the UK home market will be required to fill the gaps, but people are not queuing up to fill the vacancies that exist now, so do the Government believe that somehow post Brexit people will suddenly become available for work in the care sector?