Brexit is threatening to cause significant harm to the NHS, according to health experts’ review of four possible EU withdrawal scenarios.
The Health Policy Review, published in The Lancet, found that a no-deal Brexit would be “by far” the worst option for the health service, impacting on workforce levels, causing medicine shortages, putting the squeeze on funding and halting medical research.
As well as no deal, the leading experts in public health and law analysed departures including a transitional agreement up until the end of 2020 as well as the Northern Ireland Backstop and the Political Declaration on the Future Relationship between the UK and EU.
And they came to the conclusion that each of the scenarios left the health service worse off than remaining in the EU – that scenario was not included in the study after the same experts assessed it in 2017.
Some people will dismiss our analysis as “Project Fear”. But with just over a month to go to Brexit, we need to move beyond slogans
The recruitment and retention of the health care workforce was one of the factors that came under the microscope. Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement may have been agreed with the EU but is yet to win over parliament – it covers reciprocal arrangements and mutual recognition of professional qualifications up to 2020.
But there is no provision for healthcare workers in the Backstop or Political Declaration while the £30,000 minimum salary threshold, under the proposed Immigration White Paper, could limit immigration of health workers to the UK.