The UK’s vote to leave the EU could has significant impacts on the country’s health and social care, where they could see their national healthcare system damaged. The NHS is facing big financial pressure with the entry of British pensioners and the departures of foreign workers.
EU citizens are entitled to hold a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), giving them access to healthcare throughout EU countries. One of the pro Brexit arguments was the problem of medical tourism, which stated that an overwhelming number of European patients were coming to Britain for treatment. Consequently, they claimed that the NHS would not be able to survive if the UK stayed in the EU.
However, Brexit might just have the opposite impact on the NHS. Since many expat pensioners will be losing their EHIC card, they might not be able to access free healthcare in EU countries and could return to Britain for medical treatments. This could trigger funding problems for the NHS, possibly going up to £1 billion.
With Brexit, many expats will be leaving the country, which includes many European nurses and doctors. The NHS is dependent on those professionals and will experience a shortage of over 1,600 foreign nurses, doctors and other support workers to treat the patients after Brexit.
These migration changes could potentially have major implications for health and social care, impacting the amount of money the UK will be able to spend on the NHS. With the number of registered nurses having already dropped since the Brexit referendum in June 2017, the national health system could be left with an insufficient number of doctors and nurses, and could plunge into a deeper crisis.