What’s happening to the NHS post-Brexit?

Upon leaving the EU, healthcare benefits will change, with staffing losses, a lack of free healthcare abroad, and limited access to important public health information.

Staffing losses are expected to be monumental, with leaked government estimates suggested shortages in nursing could read 20,000 by 2025 if migration is shut off. These losses starting from a 30,000 shortfall.  In preparation for potential Brexit effects, the NHS has invited bids for a £100 million contract to recruit overseas doctors into general practice.

Currently, EU citizens get rights to healthcare when they are in any of the EU’s 28 member states. The UK government is in discussion to agree these arrangements will stay in place until December 2020, even if a no-deal Brexit goes ahead. However, if the proposal is not accepted by the EU/EFTA member states, UK citizens will need to ensure they have comprehensive health insurance when travelling in Europe.

The UK have access to clinical trial information databases, however, should Brexit go ahead, it is unclear if they will still have the same level of access. This will mean less research into rare diseases.

An extra £350m a week was promised to be spent on the NHS, however after the UK pays the £39bn divorce bill with the EU, there will be little money left to cover the costs. The Treasury has said a combination of economic growth and perhaps even tax rises may be needed.

The UK also has early detection for public health threats, coordinated by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Leaving the EU could lead to delays in important public health communication.

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Leia Butler

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October 2021
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