Brexit: what this means for Healthcare

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The Referendum campaign highlighted a fundamental lack of objective data regarding the impact of EU membership on our healthcare system, and therefore the effects of an exit.

The leave vote poses so far unanswerable questions on a range of health system issues in the short and medium term, including:

  • Staffing impact – NHS and social care reliance on overseas migrants is significant at a time of intense staffing pressure. The policy on freedom of movement post Brexit may become critical and could create short term uncertainties.
  • R&D Funding and position – The London location of the EU Medicines Agency has been cited as a positive factor in the NHS's successful positioning of its R&D capabilities, attracting overseas investment and funding. If the EMA must now relocate, the long term impact on trials revenue and participation will depend on the strength and depth of relationships already established.
  • Cross-border collaboration – European systems have influenced several of the new models of care programmes in the NHS.  Many independent healthcare operators have pan- European activities. Uncertainty in the short term about implications of an exit could impact collaboration and appetite for financial risk in organisations supporting the NHS.
  • The Money – additional funding for the NHS was a pillar of the exit campaign. It may be a while before the smoke clears enough to know whether the economic impact of Brexit makes more or less money available for investment in NHS services.