With the UK government in complete meltdown (to say the least), as politicians are trying to get to grips with the referendum result, it’s impossible to get any sense of what the longterm impact of Brexit will be… especially when it comes to the future of the National Health Service (NHS).
Uncertainty is our only certainty
The pre-referendum promise of £350m a week in payments being raked back from the EU and allocated as additional funding for the NHS, has now been retracted. This is largely because the £200m of EU rebates the UK used to receive were not taken into account. Leave campaigners, like Nigel Farage, have now said the £350m a week claim was a mistake.
The reality is that the saving the UK will make is closer to an extra £100m a week. However, the allocation of this money will depend on how the government chooses to spend it – on health or other areas of the public sector.
The bottom-line is, as per usual, that the man on the street (irrespective of your political persuasion) will face a lot of broken promises in the months ahead… and we’ll just have to bite the bullet and hope for the best possible outcome.
Looking at the future of post-EU Britain’s NHS, it’s clear that without a doubt the financial stability of our health services depends on the state of the economy… and let’s face it, the outlook at this stage is not very promising.
This means the NHS, which is already under a lot of financial strain (due to previous austerity budget cuts), may take a further blow and essential health initiatives may yet again take a backseat.
The biggest health policy initiative that we all were waiting for is the government’s childhood obesity strategy, which David Cameron was hoping to be a high profile “domestic legacy” initiative similar to the dementia plan under the coalition government.
The childhood obesity strategy was first postponed last autumn and then again when the referendum campaign got underway. As a result, health experts were hoping to launch it later this year in July.
Fortunately, because the foundations of the childhood obesity strategy were already firmly in place, it’s understood that little more work is needed to make it a reality.
This all seems positive, but understandably at the moment there can be no certainty about when the obesity strategy will be published.
On the other hand, no one knows if the new government will actually put childhood obesity high on their agenda… so it’s possible that this long-awaited and essential health initiative may be binned altogether.
Here’s for hoping that the dust settles soon and that some sense of normality returns in order for us to focus on a better and brighter Britain where our children and grandchildren can enjoy a long, healthy and prosperous future.
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What does Brexit mean for the NHS?, published online 24.06.16, bbc.co.uk