Over 100 politicians from five parties warn on Brexit threat to NHS

Over 100 leading politicians from across five parties have come together to warn that a hard Brexit is the greatest threat to the future of the NHS.

Members of Parliament, MEPs, local government leaders and members of devolved legislatures from Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party of England and Wales have signed an open letter that warns: it is increasingly clear that the biggest threat of all to the NHS is a hard Brexit.

 

The letter (the full text of which follows below), concludes:

Brexit is not a panacea to the NHS crisis. It is no longer even a placebo. Instead of providing answers, it simply creates more problems - calling into question the ease with which we currently import medical isotopes to diagnose and treat cancer and the speed at which new medicines and treatments will be available once we have left the European Medicines Agency. This wasn’t on the side of a bus but the public have a right to know. And ultimately, if it looks as though the cost of Brexit is irreparable damage to our health service, people have every right to ask whether that is too high a price to pay.

 

Commenting, Ben Bradshaw MP, leading supporter of the Open Britain campaign, said:

Brexit has not happened yet but already it is doing deep damage to the NHS and the wider health and social care system.

“Nurse numbers are falling. Our pharmaceutical companies are already having to divert money that could have been spent on research into new treatments into preparing for Brexit.

“Yet even that is not the worst we can expect from Brexit. That will come in the form of the orange peril, Donald Trump, and what he will demand as the price for any trade deal Theresa May or her successor signs.

“We know that Trump has no time for any system of shared healthcare. Pleading with him to accept limited access for US healthcare giants to the UK is going to be a non-starter. He will surely insist they get every chance to get stuck into buying up parts of our health service.

“In a world where the Government has turned its back on membership of the world’s biggest and most economically powerful single market, ministers will have little choice but to accept the terms the Trump administration dictate.

These are just some of the reasons why so many of us on the left and centre of politics have come together to warn of the threat Brexit poses to the NHS and to state that we must maintain the right to keep the option of rejecting any final Brexit deal if it threatens the integrity and future security of our NHS.”

/ends

 

Notes to editors

 

The letter and signatories:

This July the National Health Service will be 70 years old. This will be a cause for celebration, yet it will also serve as a reminder of the fragility of this greatest of British institutions. There has not always been an NHS, and unless we and future generations take care of it, it has no pre-ordained right to exist.

Yet, as the winter crisis pressures continue it is increasingly clear that the biggest threat of all to the NHS is a hard Brexit.

And the reason for this is clear. Brexit will act as a stress multiplier, exacerbating the many challenges facing the health service for decades to come.

Take the NHS budget, which some members of Theresa May’s Cabinet claimed would benefit from a £350m a week cash injection as a result of Brexit. The reality has been quite the opposite – close to that sum has been lost in lower economic growth since the referendum, and growth is now forecast to average an anaemic 1.5% for the next 5 years in a row, something that hasn’t happened for over 30 years. This is already translating into lower tax receipts and will mean less money for the NHS. Future generations will ask why, as our health service was crying out for more resources, we as a country embarked on a national mission to downgrade our economy.

At the same time, Brexit is also deepening the NHS staffing crisis. The prolonged uncertainty around the rights of EU nationals, coupled with the fall in the value of the pound, has led many European doctors and nurses to reconsider their future here. And far fewer are applying to work here in the years ahead. According to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, applications from EU nurses to work in the UK have fallen by 89% since the referendum. It takes three years to train a nurse and seven years to train a doctor - even if we increase the supply of homegrown NHS staff, we have an immediate problem that needs real answers.

If the NHS buckles further under this strain, the pressure for privatisation will steadily grow. As John Major said of prominent Leave campaigners during the referendum, ‘the NHS is about as safe with them as a pet hamster would be with a hungry python.’

Brexit is not a panacea to the NHS crisis. It is no longer even a placebo. Instead of providing answers, it simply creates more problems - calling into question the ease with which we currently import medical isotopes to diagnose and treat cancer and the speed at which new medicines and treatments will be available once we have left the European Medicines Agency. This wasn’t on the side of a bus but the public have a right to know. And ultimately, if it looks as though the cost of Brexit is irreparable damage to our health service, people have every right to ask whether that is too high a price to pay.

 

List of signatories:

Total: 106

Labour 79

Heidi Alexander MP

Rupa Huq MP

Rushanara Ali MP

Margaret Hodge MP

Tulip Siddiq MP

Preet Gill MP

Louise Ellman MP

Gareth Thomas MP

Seema Malhotra MP

Mike Gapes MP

Matt Western MP

Daniel Zeichner MP

Anna Turley MP

Gavin Shuker MP

Ann Coffey MP

Mary Creagh MP

Karen Buck MP

Ben Bradshaw MP

Martyn Whitfield MP

Liz Kendall MP

Chuka Umunna MP

Helen Hayes MP

Darren Jones MP

Luciana Berger MP

Kate Green MP

Dr Paul Williams MP

Ruth Cadbury MP

Neil Coyle MP

Madeleine Moon MP

Angela Smith MP

Ian Murray MP

Wes Streeting MP

Stephen Doughty MP

Alison McGovern MP

Chris Leslie MP

Geraint Davies MP

Stella Creasy MP

Catherine McKinnell MP

Conor McGinn MP

Phil Wilson MP

Pat McFadden MP

Peter Kyle MP

Chris Bryant MP

Catherine West MP

Lord Andrew Adonis

Lord Peter Hain

Lord Stewart Wood of Anfield

Lord John Monks

Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool

Richard Corbett MEP, UK Labour Party leader in the European Parliament

Seb Dance MEP

Mary Honeyball MEP

Claude Moraes MEP

David Martin MEP

Catherine Stihler MEP

Rory Palmer MEP

Jude Kirton-Darling MEP

Clare Moody MEP

Alex Mayer MEP

John Howarth MEP

Wajid Khan MEP

Theresa Griffin MEP

Julie Ward MEP

Paul Brannen MEP

Lucy Anderson MEP

Derek Vaughan MEP

Linda McAvan MEP

Neena Gill MEP

Alun Davies AM, Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Local Government & Public Services

Lynne Neagle AM

Mike Hedges AM

Joyce Watson AM

Jayne Bryant AM

John Griffiths AM

David Rees AM

Jane Hutt AM

Ann Jones AM

Jenny Rathbone AM

Vikki Howells AM

 

Liberal Democrats (15)

Sir Vince Cable MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Jo Swinson MP, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Tom Brake MP, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson

Christine Jardine MP

Wera Hobhouse MP

Layla Moran MP

Alistair Carmichael MP

Tim Farron MP

Sir Ed Davey MP

Lord Dick Newby, Leader of The Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords

Baroness Judith Jolly, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson

Lord Tom McNally

Baroness Sarah Ludford

Catherine Bearder MEP

Kirsty Williams AM, Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Education

 

 

SNP (7)

Philippa Whitford MP, SNP Health Spokesperson

Stephen Gethins MP

Michael Ironside MP

Stewart Hosie MP

David Linden MP

Tommy Shephard MP

Ian Hudghton MEP

 

Greens (4)

Caroline Lucas MP, Leader of the Green party

Molly Scott Cato MEP

Jean Lambert MEP

Keith Taylor MEP

 

Plaid Cymru (1)

Hywel Williams MP, Plaid Cymru Brexit spokesperson