Why voting Remain on the EU is vital to our NHS
The NHS is at the centre of our national life. It looks and feels more British than anything else. Yet it has developed and flourished in cooperation with the European Union. A vote to leave would damage the ability of the NHS to meet our growing health needs.
Everyone knows of the NHS funding crisis. This year, London NHS trusts are predicted to have a combined deficit of £519 million. Uncertainty in the economy caused by Brexit will inevitably put additional pressure on such tight budgets.
Vote Leave’s argument that the £350 million a week gross EU contribution should go to the NHS instead bears no relation to reality. The UK’s net contribution after the rebate and other money coming back is less than half that amount – and would be offset many times over by the downturn in the economy inevitably triggered by Brexit, leading to more austerity impacting on NHS spending.
With a staffing crisis, staff from the EU are critical to filling London NHS vacancies. 11% of hospital doctors and 6% of GPs qualified in the European Economic Area; and 4.5% of the total NHS workforce is from there.
EU citizens’ treatment costs the NHS annually £350 million. Contrary to what the Brexiters would have you believe, the NHS can reclaim this from their own countries through the European Health Insurance Card system – which is also used by UK nationals in the EU to access public health facilities as if they were at home, on the same basis as that country’s citizens. This would go if we left the EU – private travel insurance for European holidays would cost a lot more; and the consequences of not having health insurance could be even worse.
London’s MedCity depends on grant funding to support its life sciences work. collaborative working across Europe pools ideas and innovation. This collective intelligence needs the movement of people and ideas. It allows the NHS to exploit research from across the EU. Brexit would jeopardise our status as an international medical research city, as universities would find it harder to collaborate and obtain funding. The UK was the biggest recipient of EU medical research funds, receiving £232m to spend last year alone.
We cannot risk the impact on our NHS, so I will be voting to Remain, and I hope you will too.