It has been nearly two weeks since the UK voted to leave the European Union, and already the NHS has begun to suffer. The post-Brexit fall in the value of sterling against the dollar (the lowest drop in over 30 years) has had a big effect on the NHS’ ability to buy pharmaceuticals, leaving patients waiting for, or without, proper treatments. Large quantities of medication are purchased from the US and around the world and a rise in price of these important provisions will only worsen the UK’s already struggling health service.
Before the referendum, the Vote Leave campaign had suggested that the £350 million that Britain paid to the EU each week would be ‘saved’ and then fed into the NHS. However it now seems that since the UK has voted to leave the EU, the NHS will be even worse off than before. Simon Stevens, the NHS England chief executive, had suggested that leaving the UK could be detrimental to the provision of healthcare, and that Brexit could be terrible for the NHS. In addition, expensive procedures such as robotic surgeries for people with kidney and bladder cancers will also be hit by the outcome of the EU referendum.
According to Forbes, ‘By 2020, UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is expected to face a shortage of around 16,000 primary care physicians. By 2022, nurse shortages are expected to be in the vicinity of 100,000. The UK has traditionally tried to fill the gap by recruiting both doctors and nurses from foreign countries, especially other EU countries. The guarantee of stable, long-term contracts is a huge draw for a broad range of care providers across different EU countries. With the UK voting to leave the European Union, citing immigration as one of the key reasons, the NHS will struggle in recruiting manpower from these countries.’
The promises made by the Vote Leave campaign have now been removed from the official website.