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Analysis

For NHS, it’s a case of fix it – don’t Brexit

by Luke Lythgoe | 15.05.2019

The best way to save the NHS is to stay in the EU. And the most immediate thing we can do to stop Brexit is to vote for an unequivocally pro-European party in the European Parliament elections on May 23.

The NHS is in a deep crisis – starved of attention, cash and staff. Brexit is making all these things worse.

Delays for cancer have got much worse, as have waits for GP appointments, according to the BMA, which represents doctors and medical students. If we hadn’t had the mildest winter in five years, the crisis would have been even more severe this year. A&E waiting times barely improved on last year, the worst on record.

Staying in the EU would help the NHS in three ways.

First, our politicians would have time to focus on the health service rather than obsessing about Brexit. If we don’t stop it, they will fight for years over the details of our new relationship with the EU. They’ll also have to reinvent a whole load of systems that currently work well: monitoring and approving drugs; ensuring safety and quality of donated blood and organs; arranging early alerts of disease outbreaks. It would be better to spend time fixing things that are already broken.

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Second, we would have more money. Boris Johnson lied when he said we would be able to give “£350 million a week” more to the NHS if we quit the EU. We won’t. All forms of Brexit will leave our economy smaller, meaning less money for government to spend on public services.

There are other risks too, such as a trade deal with the US – a top priority for Johnson. This could allow American pharma giants to charge much more for their products. And some extreme Brexiters, such as Nigel Farage, have talked about replacing the NHS with an insurance-based system.

Third, the vote to leave the EU caused an exodus of doctors and nurses from other EU countries. This comes on top of an existing staffing crisis: overworked nursing staff are quitting, while doctors are retiring early as they face being penalised by a new pensions policy.

In the referendum, voters were told we could kick out the foreigners and get better treatment on the NHS. What nonsense. You are more likely to find an EU citizen standing by your bed looking after you than in the next bed receiving treatment.

So if you care about the NHS, get out and vote on May 23 – and put your cross by a party determined to stop Brexit such as the Lib Dems, Greens, Change UK, SNP or Plaid Cymru.

This is the third in a series of articles on reasons to stay in the EU in the run-up to the European elections. The second one argued that staying in the EU is the best way to protect the freedoms we enjoy today.

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Edited by Hugo Dixon

One Response to “For NHS, it’s a case of fix it – don’t Brexit”

  • Now, how to get this important message across to those who think Nigel Fartage is telling ‘em what “they” needed to be told?