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We may not see cyber-attacks but they are happening every day, and with increasing severity. In the UK, 90% of large organisations have reported cyber breaches over the last two years and the average cost …

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Home » Brexit, Health

Navigating the rocky road ahead

Submitted by on 30 Sep 2016 – 17:00

What impact does Brexit have on the NHS and our health? Julie Girling MEP looks at the pros and cons and says the impact largely depends upon what the United Kingdom’s new Prime Minister adopts for its relationship with the EU

It gives me no pleasure to say it – but we face a rocky road ahead, following the Brexit vote in the EU referendum last month.

It gives me no pleasure to say it – but we face a rocky road ahead, following the Brexit vote in the EU referendum last month.
It may be that we eventually emerge from the approaching negotiation with some form of agreement on trade that mitigates harm to our economy, but I see no reason for great optimism over that.

In the meantime, I fear we face uncertainty, stagnation and underinvestment.

The healthcare sector will face broadly the same challenges caused by Brexit as other parts of the economy. Some of those challenges will cast an even deeper shadow over health than other sectors.

As I write the pound has just hit a thirty-year low against the dollar and stock-market volatility continues, especially in bellwether sectors such as building and property.

The Governor of the Bank of England has said that his predictions of problems caused by a Leave vote are largely playing out. Investment decisions are delayed and the housing market has slowed.
Of course the longer term is what matters and I do believe that the inherent strength of our economy will prevail. We will pull through, but I believe our future success will be forever diminished by the decision to leave.

When we leave, it is likely we will be shutting ourselves off from a single-market of 500 million. The Leave camp has no plans for how to address that, and the Government will struggle to piece one together.

Some claim that we can keep access to the single market without paying money in and without accepting free movement; but why would the remaining 27 countries give us a better deal outside the club than anybody has inside it?

If I were Mrs Merkel or Mr Hollande, I would not fancy selling that to my electorate.
It may be the bigger businesses that benefit most from the single market, but thousands of smaller concerns are indirectly affected as part of the supply chain or through having the larger firms’ employees as customers.

On top of that, our farmers will be in limbo as they wait to see what replaces the single farm payment. They also face uncertainty about the labour market if they are prevented from employing migrant workers at harvest and other busy times.
Expect food prices to rise and thus place pressure on household budgets. Wages will go less far.

Meanwhile in the healthcare sector, research grants are likely to be harder to come by if we lose access to the EU’s highly valuable Horizon 2020 funding pool.

The NHS depends more than any other organisation I can think of, on skills and labour supplied by nationals from elsewhere in the EU.
At present, there is no guarantee that those staff will be allowed to stay in the UK. Instead, there is the prospect of them becoming bargaining chips in the negotiation.

Rather than waiting for that outcome, many may vote with their feet – just as they did when they once saw the great attraction of coming here to help us.

I am very happy that the new Prime Minister is now in place and a new structure is beginning to emerge. I am sure that Theresa May will move rapidly towards resolving the issues and ending the uncertainty. However, I do not underestimate the difficulty of the task. I wish her luck.