- Brexit would mean NHS spending would be £135 a head lower
- Close to 10,000 doctors and 19,000 nurses in the NHS could be affected by a Brexit
- Pharmaceutical sector would suffer , the UK would no longer provide the ideal point of entry to European markets
There is little room for a positive outcome for any area of the UK healthcare industry should the UK vote to leave the EU. This is the key finding of a new report which has been published by the Economist Intelligence Unit this morning.
10,000 doctors at risk if we Brexit
Healthcare is an industry that requires specialist skills and training. As the largest UK employer, the NHS employs over 1.5m people, including around 111 000 doctors and 315,000 nurses and health workers. Eight percent of UK doctors currently come from EU countries, which means that around 10,000 doctors currently employed by the NHS would potentially be affected by Brexit. Although it is not certain that EU workers would be asked to leave if the UK votes for Brexit, their tenure would become more uncertain. They would also become harder to replace if they did leave.
Healthcare spending would fall in the instance of a Brexit
A combination of factors has led us to forecast that, should the UK vote to leave the EU, by 2020 healthcare spending would be £135 lower per head than if the UK were to remain in the EU. This is in addition to the £22bn efficiency savings the NHS is still expected to deliver by 2020.
Impact on the Pharmaceutical industry
Post-Brexit, the UK would no longer provide the ideal point of entry to European markets. Instead it would be just one isolated European market that cannot be entered using the EU centralised drug authorisation pathway. Business opportunities for healthcare suppliers would become less attractive. Regulations governing registration and trade would be more cumbersome, increasing the cost of doing business.
According to Annie Pannelay, author of the report: “With opinion polls finely balanced, the stakes are high: a vote in favour of Brexit would have far-reaching implications for the future of the UK, including its healthcare sector. Like many in the health service and the pharmaceutical industry, we have concluded that there are substantial risks for the country’s health sector if the UK leaves the EU.”
The risks of the UK leaving the EU have increased as the referendum approaches, but The Economist Intelligence Unit continues to expect the UK to vote in June to stay in the EU. The outcome of the vote will have knock-on effects for healthcare, a sector of supreme national importance and one in which the EU plays a critical role.
The Economist Intelligence Unit's Healthcare markets in Europe: What would be the impact of Brexit is available free of charge at: http://www.eiu.com/BrexitHealth
Notes for editors
About The Economist Intelligence Unit
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