How Brexit could affect the NHS

We are constantly seeing news bulletins full of doubt for junior doctor contracts and the running of the NHS. With these continuing issues only being fuelled by the result of the Brexit vote, it’s a contentious issue that everyone has an opinion on. The ever-impending Brexit could well have an impact on all of our institutions and organisations, including the NHS itself.

shutterstock_393927661There have been obvious worries regarding Brexit when it comes to the UK economy, not just for businesses but for the NHS too. The threat of an EU-US trade deal could possibly lead to the privatisation of the NHS which is something the EU and UK government wish to avoid.

The NHS is already under a lot of pressure in terms of funding and staff levels, with many people often complaining that access to GPs and other such services are limited. For those who are looking to enter the medical profession, it is important that you understand the implications of leaving the EU and what this could mean for the NHS of the future. With the NHS often viewed as a bone of contention, here is an overview of the effect Brexit could have on the NHS in the coming months and even years.

There are a number of issues that may arise under the Brexit result, however it is important to remember that the NHS was under pressure long before the referendum came into place.

Staffing levels

Currently, the EU has freedom of movement regulations that allow professionals to work in other countries within the EU. This means that a large portion of the staff currently at the NHS most likely came from other countries.

Recruitment for the NHS is already struggling, with retaining levels of permanent staff decreasing. With this in mind, it’s probably more important than ever that any UK students dreaming of becoming a medical professional continue to follow their goals and become a proud member of the NHS.

If such freedom of movement is restricted post-Brexit, there is likely to be a smaller pool of people to recruit from. There is also a chance doctors and nurses from other European countries may be put off accepting jobs due to the referendum result. The NHS launched a Twitter campaign under the hashtag ‘#LoveOurEUStaff’ to reassure EU citizens that they still have the right to live and work in the UK until the UK stops being an active member of the EU.

Treatment in the UK and abroad

EU citizens, for now, are entitled to an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card), which means they can access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in an EU country. EU rules state that people who come from EU to live in the UK, or vice versa, should have access to the same healthcare as nationals.

There could well be pressure on the NHS to continue providing healthcare for those who visit the UK, however this is an issue that will have to be addressed as post-Brexit agreements are drawn up.

Medical research

Collaboration across the EU has helped the UK to further its scientific research efforts; thanks to various talent and important funding. There is a possibility that leaving the EU could have a detrimental effect on the level of funding across both medical research and the NHS itself.

With many more industries being impacted including businesses across the country due to Brexit, it is the private healthcare businesses that appear to be experiencing a rise in operating profits. Spire Healthcare, the UK’s second largest private hospital chain, has experienced a revenue increase by 4% from last year.

EMIS, a healthcare software provider, has also announced that it is performing well despite the uncertainty that has been brought about by the referendum and its results.

We have been caught in the middle of numerous debates and proposals from leaders of both campaigns for Brexit, and the reality of it is that we are still a long way off seeing the effects of Brexit on the NHS. For now, those who are studying medicine or entering the NHS should do so with their head held high! Further your medical studies and invest in PasTest Revision Guides.