The National Health Service is facing a financial crisis and the UK’s membership of the European Union is compounding the enormous strain it is under. We frequently hear of black alerts at hospitals, particularly over the winter season; patients are advised not to come to A & E and appointments are postponed. The dedicated workforce can be overwhelmed and worn down by the continuous pressure which badly affects morale. Some wards, units and hospitals have been closed down or downgraded, leaving large distances for patients to travel to access services. Funding for certain medicines and treatments is a postcode lottery. Similarly, mental health services, retirement homes, GPs and dentists are increasingly difficult to access. Indeed many hospital trusts are on financial life support, running enormous and growing deficits and requiring bailouts it is a very worrying picture and it looks to be rapidly getting worse.
Trainee nurses have to saddle themselves with debt to pay for their training and living costs, and once they start work will only earn a salary that has stagnated and fallen behind inflation for years. Meanwhile expensive agency staff are used and foreign nurses from all over the world are hired en masse for short term savings.
Many UK trained doctors have become disillusioned with the strain of working for the NHS and have chosen to take their skills and emigrate to better run health services like that of Australia. Foreign trained doctors fill up the shortfall, leaving behind a skills gap in their home country that trained them.
An issue often overlooked by the media when commenting on the NHS, particularly by Hugh Pym of the BBC, is the demand on the NHS from the rapidly growing population. Clearly, if over 300,000 more people year on year need looking after then that will require ever increasing resources.
It seems it is difficult to accurately assess the impact of health tourism, but estimates up to billions of pounds, much of which is unrecoverable, have been quoted. As this is only a small percentage of the huge NHS budget it is often dismissed as insignificant despite it taking vital hospital places and resources from the UK citizens.
Whatever other operational issues the NHS has, it is crystal clear that the European Union and freedom of movement is helping to put all health services under so much pressure that they are creaking at the seams.
The typical pro EU responses do not solve the above issues:
Spend more money on the NHS….
Fair enough…but what money? The UK is in severe financial difficulty already. There will be less money to spend, not more, and even more cuts and public sector wage suppression will have to happen. There is more of our money to be accessed if we left the EU – consider our massive contributions to the EU and foreign aid largesse.
The NHS relies on foreign doctors and nurses and it would fall apart if they all had to leave if when we left the EU….
Simply not true. Why wouldn’t the UK and the NHS retain those employees, many of whom come from outside of the EU anyway? An independent UK can choose to hire medical staff from abroad if it needs them – that is the benefit of being independent – it sets the rules. Also, why not spend more on training people from the UK to be doctors, nurses, GP’s and dentists like we did for decades? Money saved on stabilising demand and controlling health tourism could help fund this.
We need the EU to ensure high levels of immigration to have enough workforce and money to look after the large elderly population….
We have over 65 million people in the country, most of whom are not the elderly or the young and we have many unemployed or underemployed people who could fulfil a greater number of caring roles. What is missing is the funding to make the employment more attractive. We should recognise that importing people on a massive scale who require even more resources is not helping to support or fund the NHS but is actually adding to the strain and the cost. Demographics are changing as young working adults from the UK have huge difficulties in even affording a family due to high house prices and low wages, both problems that are exacerbated by high levels of immigration.
The price of prescriptions medicines would rise if we left the EU….
The fear factor of leaving the EU in terms of trade has been endlessly hyped up. Countries worldwide buy and sell to the EU with low or no trade tariffs, without having to be a ruled by the EU or to fund the EU project. Trade terms would be agreed to allow companies to buy and sell to each other – it would be business as usual. In fact trade with the rest of the world would be significantly easier as the the UK and the NHS would not be bound by endless EU red tape and directives, therefore purchasing costs could even fall.
The summary above is based upon various news articles, some of which are linked below. It is not to scaremonger for political gain, but just to gather together some evidence as reported by the press about the state of our National Health Service and the real damage caused from the UK being in the European Union. Please read some of them, or glance at the article titles to see why so many people are campaigning for an independent UK.
The very best way to protect and enhance the NHS for a world class service is to vote to leave the EU in the referendum.