Think-tank organisations pen Brexit warning

In an open letter to MPs, health and social care think-tank organisations The Health Foundation, The King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust have highlighted four major impacts of Brexit on health and care. 

Organisation chief executives Jennifer Dixon of The Health Foundation, Richard Murray of The King’s Fund and Nigel Edwards of Nuffield Trust say: “There is a very real risk that leaving the European Union without an agreement could exacerbate the workforce crisis in health and care, drive up demand for already hard-pressed services, hinder the supply of medicines and other vital supplies, and stretch the public finances which pay for healthcare.

1. A risk of intensifying the staffing crisis
Some 104,000 European nationals work in social care, even a small trend towards European migrants leaving the United Kingdom will worsen a social care workforce shortage already standing at 110,000. In social care, 90 per cent of staff earning under the proposed £30,000 salary threshold will not qualify for a permanent work visa.

2. Shortages and price rises for vital supplies
 New import regulations are likely to increase shortages of medicines and medical devices. The Government’s leaked ‘Operation Yellowhammer’ document has warned of a three-month “meltdown” of delays at UK’s ports and food and medicine shortages in an “absolute worst case scenario”.

3. The need to care for returning emigrants
Around 200,000 people using the special EU scheme that guarantees health care rights to retirees abroad would face losing that protection. A further 800,000 UK nationals in Europe might also be unable to access or afford care.  

4. Funding shortfalls at a time when health and care need it most
Although an extra £20.5 billion has been pledged to the day-to-day budget of the NHS in England, this does not cover other areas of spending such as investment in buildings, equipment and staff training budgets, which have been reduced in recent years. Analysis by the Health Foundation estimates that £1.0 billion extra in 2020/21 and £2.1 billion in 2021/22 are needed just to stabilise the adult social care system.

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