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Brexit: what will it mean for healthcare in the UK?

With Brexit on the horizon, the complexity of what this will mean for the UK healthcare industry is starting to be discussed. The potential consequences of Brexit could have far reaching effects across many areas including patient care, staffing, medical research, regulation, health policies and access of treatment abroad.

Although there are still many unanswered questions, healthcare professionals are keen to understand what Brexit may mean for them – and healthcare marketers are watching closely to help inform their future communications efforts.

Having looked at leading healthcare authorities’ views on how healthcare may change post-Brexit, we have identified 5 clear trends: Read on for Media Safari’s 5 top tips to ensure your communications efforts are in line with new healthcare policies and best practices set out in the mandate.

NHS spending may decrease over the next 5 years
Shortly after the referendum, Forbes highlighted the broken promise made by the Leave campaigners concerning the reallocation of £350 million to go towards NHS funding. It states that senior party leadership is now backtracking from this commitment, and the NHS continues to struggle with budgetary pressures. The Economic Intelligence Unit predicts that by 2020, the NHS will spend £135 less per head if the UK leaves the EU. With rising healthcare costs, it believes this will most certainly result in lower quality of care provision.The public will expect a cash injection into the NHS

Agreeing with this stance is the HSJ, which believes that following the false promises, the public now expects the NHS to receive a meaningful financial injection. Whereas in reality, the uncertain economic climate makes that even more unlikely than it was previously. It states that the best working assumption is that the NHS’s cash envelope will stay roughly as planned for the next two to three years

A loss of migrant workers could lead to staffing shortfalls
Looking at staffing issues within the NHS, The King’s Fund says that without the EU’s policy of freedom of movement and mutual recognition of professional qualifications within the EU, the NHS’ ability to fill vacancies will be affected. The healthcare think tank believes that given the current staffing shortfalls being experienced in both the health and social care sectors, the government must clarify its intentions on the ability of EU nationals to work in health and social care roles in the UK.

Funding for medical research may suffer
Looking at the medical research element, Jeremy Farrar, Head of the Wellcome Trust biomedical research foundation in London stated that the EU funding was a significant part of UK science funding and that this will lead to a dramatic drop in research funding, which will not be made up by charities or national government. He said, “The UK’s vote to leave the European Union is understandably causing considerable uncertainty for British science and research.”

The UK may have more freedom to discover new ways of working 
Although proactively backing the Remain campaign, the BMJ has found some positives in the new EU relations; it states that the UK can now remove itself from the worst excesses of the European Working Time Directive which drove the UK’s doctors into shift working. Also by being released from the directive’s strictures, it believes the UK can develop new ways of working and training.

Whatever the UK’s relationship ultimately is with the EU, patient care, funding, R&D and other key drivers will still be high on the NHS agenda. Simon Stevens, NHS England Chief Executive has confirmed the NHS will press on with its work, regardless of the post-referendum political disruption as both Leave and Remain campaigned for a strong and better funded NHS. Ultimately, NHS England’s immediate priorities remain “completely unchanged” and they will be using the coming months to get on with what the NHS was set up to deliver, a great health service for patients and the public.

We stay tuned for more…..