NHS would fall over without staff from EU countries say Jeremy Hunt


Responding to the Health Select Committee report on Brexit and health and social care, Nuffield Trust Chief Executive Nigel Edwards said:


“The major implications for the NHS must not be overlooked in Brexit negotiations, and we support the call for a clear list of the issues to be planned for and who is in charge of doing so.


“As Jeremy Hunt told the committee, the NHS would fall over without staff from EU countries. Not only do we need to try to secure their rights as soon as possible, we also need to recognise that we will need more workers to come to the UK for at least the next few years. Applying the immigration limits we use for the rest of the world to the EU would shut out vital staff: it isn’t an option. A new system must be designed with the needs of health, social care and patients clearly in mind.


“The Committee is also right that there would be real risks in ending the reciprocal healthcare arrangements which give British citizens EHIC cards for travel, and allow them to retire abroad with health coverage. With staff and beds already stretched the NHS would struggle to deliver adequate care if many pensioners currently living in other EU countries had to return. It may not be easy to replace this with new arrangements after Brexit, so the next Government must start looking at options immediately.


“Due to the election the Committee did not have time to fully consider the issue of medicine and devices regulation. We need to look at how we can work with EU regulators after Brexit to make sure that NHS patients still have access to new drugs. Crucially, it is also a big advantage to the NHS to be able to buy supplies from a large, competitive market.”


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