Feature Data Briefing

Healthcare and the EU: Brexit, Bremain … or Brundecided?

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i2328 (Published 05 May 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i2328
  1. John Appleby, chief economist
  1. King’s Fund, London, UK
  1. j.appleby{at}kingsfund.org.uk

John Appleby looks at some of the numbers relating to health

The United Kingdom’s involvement in the European Union is both deep and broad, and, let’s be frank, for many people, both deeply boring and highly confusing. Yet the referendum result on 23 June will be important. A vote to leave will affect many aspects of UK life and business—including healthcare.

A recent “poll of polls” suggests the public remains almost evenly split between exiting and remaining—but with a sizeable minority of around 20% undecided.1 Over the longer term, and with more than just the in-out binary option, the public’s views are more nuanced. As fig 1 shows, crucially, the poll indicates that a much greater percentage (43%) would want to remain in the EU if its powers were reduced.2 And in particular, it seems there is popular support to restrict access to NHS treatment for people from other EU countries, curtail the ability of the EU to set maximum working hours, and to end the right of …

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