What Impact Would a Brexit Have on the NHS?

With just days to go until the vote on the future of Britain in the EU, campaigning is hotting up.

The ‘leave’ campaign has put the NHS at the heart of its argument, claiming that £5.2 billion of Britain’s annual spending can be redirected from the EU to the NHS.

They also say that migration from the EU has put increased pressure on the health service, lengthening queues at A&E and at the GP surgery.


Remain campaigners claim that an economic shock would mean that the government would have less money to fund the health service.

There remains a debate over this issue, with the Institute of Fiscal Studies suggesting that Brexit would leave the Government between £20 billion and £40 billion worse off annually by the end of the decade.

Migration also has a massive impact on the NHS, with new residents placing an increasing demand on the health service.

Net migration from the EU was 184,000 last year, and similarly high in recent years.

However, 130,000 EU citizens work in the healthcare service.

Remain campaigners assert that any UK resident is more likely to be cared for by a migrant than have to wait in an NHS queue behind one.

On the other hand, there are 11 million economically inactive Britons of working age, indicating that there is huge potential for native Britons to be retrained.

Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, has warned that the NHS could be hit by the effect of Brexit on the economy.

“It would be very dangerous if at precisely the moment the NHS is going to need extra funding actually the economy goes into a tailspin and that funding is not there.”

None of the main trade unions have taken an explicit public position on the subject.

There is no doubt that the NHS is currently in the midst of a financial crisis, thus the Brexit issue is critical to the future of the health service in the UK.

Many believe that the NHS would take a hit in funding in the event of a Brexit, which would obviously be negative for the health service.

However, this could be offset by a reduction in EU migration.

And a UK exit from the EU could open up opportunities for British people to train for, and ultimately work in, the health service.

On the other hand, there is no doubt that the NHS will continue to require trained medical staff from overseas in order to plug skills gaps.

And the idea that migrants are over-running the NHS and causing its problems is not supported by evidence.

It is safe to say that this argument will rumble on until the polls are closed.


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