Law School project's report raises alarm about Brexit's possible impact on healthcare

This week has seen the launch of a new report, ‘Brexit and the NHS’ from the academic think tank ‘The UK in a Changing Europe’. 

It is one of the outputs of the research project ‘Health Law outside the EU: Immediate, Intermediate and Long Term Impacts’, funded by an ESRC UK ‘Changing Europe Initiative Grant’.

Principle Investigator Professor Jean McHale has written the report’s chapter on Public health, and has co-authored with Matthew Bevington the one on Drugs and medical devices. The project’s Co-investigators Tammy Hervey of the University of Sheffield and Mark Flear of Queen’s University Belfast, also contribute chapters.

Launched at a conference in London on Wednesday, where Professor McHale also spoke, the report finds that Brexit will pose serious challenges to the NHS and healthcare in the UK. Potential impacts could include longer waiting times, increased pressure on staffing levels, a reduction in rights when travelling,  delays in the approvals of medicines and removal of access to safety warning systems concerning public health including blood and tissue safety. 

The report argues that while the NHS already faces funding pressures, these might increase as a result of the impact of leaving the EU. This might reduce the funds available for healthcare, which will have direct knock-on effects on waiting times, recovery rates and quality of care.