Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature EU Referendum and Health

What would the NHS look like if the UK left the EU?

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 02 June 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i3027
  1. Anne Gulland, freelance journalist
  1. London, UK
  1. agulland{at}

Anne Gulland asks whether a post-Brexit NHS would look any different

Would there be more money in the NHS budget as a direct result of Brexit?

The Conservative MP Boris Johnson has been touring the United Kingdom with his fellow Vote Leavers in a battle bus emblazoned with the words, “We send the EU £350m a week. Let’s fund our NHS instead.” Technically, that figure is correct, says the Institute for Fiscal Studies, but it does not take into account the rebate the UK receives from the European Union or money that doesn’t go through government departments, such as EU grants to universities. The UK’s net contribution to the EU will average £8bn a year over the next five years, the institute has calculated.1

Brexit campaigners have also pointed to the potential drain on NHS resources presented by the large numbers of European migrants who may come to the UK in coming years, from Turkey, Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, and Montenegro, all of which want to join the EU.

But NHS England’s chief executive, Simon Stevens, has sounded the alarm over the potential of …

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