The NHS has not been asked to prepare contingency plans for a Brexit with no deal, the chief executive of the NHS said today.
Simon Stevens, at a meeting of the House of Commons Health Select Committee, was asked if he had been asked to plan for a no deal Brexit, which has been threatened by the Prime Minister. Mr Stevens replied, saying: “We have not.”
Commenting, Ben Bradshaw MP, leading supporter of Open Britain and member of the House of Commons Health Select Committee, said:
“It is shockingly irresponsible for the Prime Minister to repeatedly threaten a no-deal Brexit without even asking the head of our National Health Service to prepare for the consequences of that threat.
“Theresa May and the hard Brexiters in Cabinet are putting our NHS at risk. Brexit with no deal would hammer our public finances, leaving less money to spend on healthcare. It could lead to an exodus of workers from the EU on whom our NHS depends.
“And we have seen no sign of the £350 million a week – the lie on the big red bus – promised by Boris Johnson and other Leave campaigners.
“A hard, extreme Brexit would be a hammer blow for our already underfunded NHS. The Prime Minister needs to drop her dangerous no deal threat and do all she can to prevent Brexit from damaging our health service."
Ben Bradshaw: Just on the workforce issue Mr Stevens, how worried are you about the impact of Brexit on your pre-existing workforce challenges?
Simon Stevens: Well as we’ve discussed before we have a superb contribution from staff who’ve trained and come from the rest of the European Union in many parts of the National Health Service. About 9 per cent of our doctors and about 5 per cent of our NHS staff overall. In some parts of the country there’s a higher proportion, particularly in London. Particularly true in some London hospitals, Great Ormand Street for example it would be much higher than that the proportion of staff from the rest of the European Union. So for that reason we greatly welcome the assurances that have now been given to staff from the rest of the European Union about their ongoing welcome in this country, because that is surely what the National Health Service needs.
Ben Bradshaw: That’s of course assuming there’s a deal. Have you been asked by your political masters to prepare contingencies for a no deal scenario which is what the Prime Minister was talking about yesterday?
Simon Stevens: We have not but I must say I don’t detect any disagreement with the proposition that in addition to continuing to grow our locally-trained staff here, the 25 per cent increase in doctors, the 25 per cent increase in nursing places, we will continue to rely on our international staff. That’s been true of the 69 years of the NHS and I don’t detect any dissent from that proposition.