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A no-deal Brexit ‘spells disaster for patients,’ warns lead doctor

Experts predict an annual cost to the NHS of £2.3 billion

Jo Carlowe

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

A no-deal Brexit will spell ‘disaster’ for patients, the leader of the British Medical Association has warned. 

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the council chair of the BMA, issued the statement ahead of the government’s Cabinet meeting that is due to take place at 2pm today. During the meeting, ministers will consider the draft agreement the negotiating teams have reached in Brussels, and decide on the next steps. 

Responding to analysis from the Nuffield Trust that projects a no-deal Brexit could cost the NHS £2.3 billion a year, Dr Nagpaul said: “The BMA has made clear what a catastrophe Brexit could be for the nation’s health – with no area of our NHS being unaffected when we leave the EU in four months’ time.”

In its paper: “How much would NHS costs rise if there’s no Brexit deal?” the Nuffield Trust looks at a range of areas that will impact on NHS finances, including possible price increases for: medical devices, supply costs for medicines, and other supplies and services that the NHS buys in such as food and bedding. In addition, the author considers the impact of gaps in staffing if EU migration dries up, and the possible costs associated with British pensioners abroad being forced to return to the UK. 

“As politicians in Westminster scramble to finalise a deal with Brussels, these new figures, while only an estimate, lay bare the very real risks and potential effects on frontline services if an agreement cannot be reached in time,” said Dr Nagpaul.

He added: “Those who voted for Brexit did so on the promise that it would save the health service £350 million a week. This claim is unravelling quickly, being exposed for what it really was – a blatant falsehood with no grounds in evidence.

“Every extra pound spent dealing with a no-deal scenario is money taken away from frontline care, and therefore if borne out, this situation will spell disaster for patients.”

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