Tory Brexit risks uncertainty for EU workers, reduced access to medicines and backdoor privatisation, warn Labour MEPs as NHS turns 70

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Under a Tory Brexit, we risk continued uncertainty for the 144,000 EU nationals working in health and social care, reduced access to medicines, treatment and research, and the privatisation of parts of the NHS as the price of trade deals, Labour MEPs reiterated today on the eve of the NHS’s seventieth birthday.

Rory Palmer MEP, Labour’s European Parliament spokesperson on health and social care, said:

“Under a Tory Brexit, we face a triple-whammy of fewer EU workers at a time of a recruitment crisis, access to medicines under threat if we put up barriers with the EU, and Donald Trump getting his grubby hands on our NHS in a tawdry Tory trade deal.

“Throw in the billions in extra taxes working people will have to pay in lieu of the fantasy ‘Brexit dividend’ and this is clearly not what people voted for. This is not what Leave campaigners promised during the referendum, and wasn’t on the side of any buses.

“The BMA last week said Brexit poses a ‘major threat’ to the NHS and the nation’s health. On Sunday, the head of the NHS said they were preparing for disruption to medical supplies in the event of no deal. The threat of trade barriers means pharmaceutical companies are leaving. The relocation of the EMA means a loss of jobs, investment and research.

“Labour MEPs will not let patients suffer through a bad Brexit deal. In its 70th year our NHS faces many challenges: make no mistake about it, a bad deal or a hard, Tory Brexit would cause untold pain to our health service.”

Rory Palmer MEP added:

“Britain’s NHS is the envy of the world, our crowning achievement, founded on our principles, our values - Labour values. Free at the point of delivery for all, regardless of wealth or background, a service truly for the many, and not the few.

“The NHS has never been safe under the Tories; under the Tories and Brexit, its prognosis has seldom been graver.”

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Notes to Editors:

In its 70th year, the NHS faces its biggest threat: Brexit. Labour MEPs are calling for:

  • Protection of NHS funding: The government’s own figures have shown the potential hit to the economy of Brexit. There must be an assessment of the impact on the money available to the NHS and a commitment from the government to sufficiently fund health and social care.
  • Certainty for EU nationals working in the NHS: The current lack of clarity over the future of the 144,000 EU nationals working in health and social care risks the sustainability of services and ongoing delivery of high-quality healthcare.
  • Continued access to research and treatment: European-wide partnerships are vital to medical research and access to treatment. It is essential the UK continues to take part in European research and benefits from early access to innovative health technologies and new medicines.
  • No backdoor privatisation: There is a real danger that countries such as the US will demand access to our NHS as the price of a future trade deal after Brexit. With a danger of race-to-the-bottom trade deals, there must be a commitment to protect health and social care and not sacrifice our NHS for the sake of a deal. A deal with Donald Trump.

See eurolabour.org.uk/nhs for more.

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