Health unions have demanded that the government rule out a no deal Brexit, saying it could “devastate” the NHS and result in “fatal”medicine shortages.
In a joint TUC statement, 11 organisations representing health care professionals, including Unite, the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing, warned that “no responsible government” would risk a no deal Brexit.
They said, “A no-deal Brexit could devastate the NHS and social care. And if this government goes ahead with it, health and care workers will be on the frontline.
“As the Yellowhammer report makes clear, a no deal could cause significant disruption to the supply of medicine, lasting up to six months.
“Many medicines, including life-saving agents for cancer diagnosis and therapy, cannot be stockpiled and for those that can, those stockpiles could run out.
“These kinds of shortages and delays can be fatal. No responsible government should take that risk.”
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail called on the government to “unequivocally guarantee” the right of 65,000 European health and care staff to continue to live and work in the UK.
She said, “Their contribution to the health service is invaluable and necessary for its smooth running.
“It is sad that the atmosphere generated by Brexit has led many of them to reconsider their future in the UK, where their expertise is so needed.”
The joint statement also warned that no deal Brexit would hit funding for health and care services.
The statement warned, “We know that the stronger our economy, the more funding we can dedicate to the NHS and social care.
“Treasury assessments show that a no-deal scenario would shrink our economy by £90bn, reducing the money available for the NHS and other vital public services.
Decade of austerity
“After a decade of austerity, health and social care budgets across the country are under immense pressure.
“With many care providers already in difficulty, a hit to the public finances could have additional knock-on consequences for the NHS.
“We call on the government to take no deal off the table.”