ALLIANCE asks not too big for new government – Lucy Mulvagh

Lucy Mulvagh, Director of Policy and Communications, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE).
Lucy Mulvagh, Director of Policy and Communications, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE).
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My organisation, the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE), believes that for a fairer and healthier Scotland we need a UK Government that supports and works with disabled people, people living with long term conditions, unpaid carers and the third sector.

The ALLIANCE is a national third sector intermediary for more than 2,900 individuals and a range of health and social care organisations.

In our 2019 UK general election manifesto we have three main ‘asks’, all focused on the expectation that candidates will listen to the voices and protect the rights of people and the third sector organisations that work tirelessly for and with them. The nature of this election means that the prospect of the UK leaving the EU dominates. Those who access, as well as deliver health and social care services, are only too aware of the negative impact that Brexit uncertainty has already had. The prospect of even more disruption looms large.

People from the EU are our friends, neighbours, colleagues and support workers – helping to deliver quality health and care services to millions of people around the country. ­Furthermore, many third sector organisations – including ALLIANCE members – use EU funding to provide essential support that helps people enjoy their rights to live well within the community.

That is why the ALLIANCE is ­calling on the elected UK government to commission independent evaluations of the impact of EU withdrawal on disabled people, people living with long term conditions, unpaid carers, the third sector, the NHS and social care provision across the four home nations.

However, Brexit isn’t the only issue in this election. All too often, people and their organisations don’t have an equal seat at the table when it comes to decisions that will directly affect them. That is why the ALLIANCE’s second manifesto ‘ask’ is for the UK government to guarantee meaningful participation in decision-making by disabled people, people living with long term conditions, unpaid carers and the third sector through people-led panels on health, work and social security.

The ALLIANCE has a long tradition of helping people engage with regional and national decision-making processes to ensure their voices are at the centre. Recently this has included public involvement in the NHS Tayside mental health services inquiry and our partnership work with Samaritans Scotland and NHS Health Scotland on suicide prevention which helped us jointly win a 2018 Herald Society Award.

Putting people at the heart of ­policy decision-making gives it greater credibility and promotes sustainable implementation. Other national examples of more participatory ­decision-making models are beginning to emerge, like Scotland’s social security Experience Panels and the social care People-Led Policy Panel. We believe these models should also be applied to reserved matters that affect people in Scotland.

Participation in decision-making is, of course, a key part of a human rights based approach. This is another major area of concern for the ALLIANCE and our members, and the basis of our third general election manifesto ‘ask’.

We believe that the UK should ­commit to tackling ­inequalities and realising the human rights of ­disabled people, people living with long term conditions and unpaid ­carers.

This is why we call on all candidates to pledge that if they are successfully elected they will commit to retaining the Human Rights Act and ­incorporating international human rights into national law.

With these three main ‘asks’ the ALLIANCE urgently calls on all candidates to support our vision for a Scotland where disabled people, ­people living with long term ­conditions and unpaid carers have a strong voice and enjoy their right to live well, as equal and active ­citizens, free from discrimination, with support and services that put them at the centre.

You can read the ALLIANCE’s ­manifesto at www.alliance-scotland.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Health-and-Social-Care-Alliance-Scotland-2019-General-Election-Manifesto.pdf

Lucy Mulvagh, director of policy and communications, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE).