This submission aims to give an overview of the key issues at stake in negotiations over the UK’s exit from the European Union from the perspective of the NHS and social care.
Reflecting the Committee’s terms of reference, it focuses on areas where the Department of Health will have a principal or supporting role in negotiations.
The economic implications of Brexit and the consequences for funding and real terms pay in the health and care sector are not one of these areas. However, this will be of great importance. Estimates from Government and independent sources suggest that deterioration in the public finances of £20 billion to £66 billion is possible by 2020 due to economic slowdown. If this resulted in a lower budget than planned for the NHS, the already very difficult task of continuing to provide the same range of services under rising cost pressure could become impossible. Inflation and a lower value of the pound are also widely expected to characterise the coming years.3 These mean lower real wages for health and care staff and a lower value of remittances sent by migrant staff: both risk exacerbating the serious ongoing workforce shortage.
Nuffield Trust (2016) Brexit and health and social care. Parliamentary Briefing. Nuffield Trust. https://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/resource/brexit-and-health-and-social-care