Brexit has been a highly controversial referendum, and inevitably, has had consequences on the NHS. The most significant effects the Brexit decision has had on the NHS are impacts on; funding, staffing, and research. This has created uncertainty, especially among European healthcare staff.
Currently 150,000 of the NHS staff are European, and over 10% of the doctors have graduated with medical degrees from European countries outside the UK. However, these numbers are decreasing rapidly as over 10,000 EU nationals have left the NHS just over a one year period, and many more continue to leave. Furthermore, the number of EU nurses applying to work for the NHS has dropped significantly by 96%, which undoubtedly, has had a detrimental effect on NHS staffing, as there is currently a shortage of over 40,000 nurses.
One of the important, yet far-fetched claims made at the time of voting for Brexit was that voting to leave the EU can bring an additional £350 million per week of funding for the NHS. However, a more realistic possibility is that an additional £100 million may be allocated per week instead. That brings an increase of 4% from the previous year, however it’s also important to consider the losses we would face from Brexit, to cover for the lack of European healthcare staff. There is still large uncertainty with how the NHS budget will be allocated after the UK leaves the EU on the 9th of March 2019.
Between 2007-2013 the UK received €3.4Bn more than what it has contributed to the EU science research budget. This shows the significant value of funding the NHS receives from the European Union, which is unlikely to remain after Brexit. The free movement between EU countries has also, up to now, allowed European medical researchers, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare staff to easily work in the UK, however Brexit will no longer make it as easy. Therefore, we may start to see a decrease in research, and additional funding will likely be required from the UK to support research.
Everyone will have their own personal opinion on Brexit, however, whatever it is, there is no doubt that Brexit will have a direct effect on the NHS. Let me know what your personal opinions are on Brexit and the NHS. Will it improve our NHS, or negatively impact it?