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Brexit: Health Armageddon or True Reform?


As you can imagine, our offices have been wrapped in absolute chaos this morning as the Brexit news unfolded.

Talk about an unexpected result!

Armageddon or blessing in disguise?

While it is far too early to know what the future holds for the newly “independent” Britain, a few things came to my mind on the health front that you need to keep a close eye on as the UK exits the European Union.

First, since the beginning of their campaign, the Leave camp has put the UK’s crumbling National Health Services (NHS) at the heart of their argument, promising to funnel £5.2 billion of Britain’s annual spending on the European Union (EU) back to the NHS.

Leave campaigners also said that migration from the EU has put increased pressure on the health service, lengthening queues at A&E and increasing waiting times at GP surgeries.

Now, I’m not entirely sure how watertight this argument is, because we also know that there have been massive NHS budget cuts under the current government, and coupled with junior doctors striking for weeks at a time, I’m almost certain that immigration is only part of the problem contributing to the current state of the NHS.

What I do know is that come October, the government will have to hold true to its promise of delivering an NHS that has sufficient funding and enough resources to deliver the services and medical care you and I have been missing out on for far too long.

And with immigration issues out of the way, if the government doesn’t deliver on this promise, then we’ll know for sure what was really at the heart of the NHS’ problem: Misadministration and the wasting of taxpayers’ money.

Second, a big bone of contention for many people has been stringent EU regulations… especially those imposed on our farmers and food producers.

But now that we are leaving the EU, many of these regulations won’t be applicable in the UK, right?

Not so fast.

It’s very likely that if the UK wants to continue trading and competing within the EU open market that our farmers, fishermen and food producers will still have to comply with EU regulations.

So, you’ll be forgiven for thinking: What was the point of this referendum?

But that’s not all.

In 2015, 19 EU countries banned the use of genetically modified crops (GMOs) on their soil.

Now, when it comes to GMOs, as a rule the EU uses the precautionary principle of demanding a pre-market authorisation before a GMO can enter the market, coupled with post-marketing environmental monitoring.

In other words, this risk assessment must show that the genetically modified food and crops is safe for human and animal health and the environment “under its intended conditions of use”.

This means that while we were part of the EU, the UKs consumers were kept safe from consuming GM foods.

But now that we’re leaving, will this still be the case?

I don’t know. No one knows…

It’s possible that the UK government will decide in the future that genetically modified crops will ensure faster food production, which can boost our economy… but not necessarily the health of the nation.

A case in point: When GM soya was introduced to the UK, soya allergies skyrocketed by 50 per cent…

And that’s just the beginning. These Franken-foods have also been linked to antibiotic resistance (a health threat Britain certainly cannot afford!), nutritional problems and gene mutations.

At first glance, it looks like leaving the EU has now opened a hornet’s nest of pros and cons on many levels and our government will have to think on its feet to make the right decision to not only save our economy, but also to protect and ensure the good health of the people.

One thing is certain: if we are not careful and fail to hold the government to its Brexit promises, we may end up drawing the short straw as health service users and consumers yet again!

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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.

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