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Feature EU Referendum and Health

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

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i3027 (Published 02 June 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i3027

Rapid Response:

Re: Will Home Office VISA Refusal Prompt West African Relatives to Vote Brexit? Full Apology Now Received from Home Office.

Will Home Office VISA Refusal Prompt West African Relatives to Vote Brexit? Full Apology Now Received from Home Office.

Following the international furore that ensued after it emerged that a seriously ill Ghanaian was refused a VISA to come to the UK for treatment, so the Specialist Professor Nicholas Ossei-Gerning of the University of Wales Teaching Hospitals had to fly to perform what needed doing in Ghana [1], the Home Office a week ago offered a full apology [2].

DR ANNE GULLAND’S “BREXIT CAMPAIGNERS” AND EFFECT ON NHS

Against the background of Dr Anne Gulland’s statement “Brexit campaigners have also pointed out 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” [3] I had I wondered how the nearly one million West African relatives in the UK of World War Two Veterans who fought in Burma and “who may be begging to come to the UK for private medical treatment and be blocked while Europeans can fly across The Channel without a VISA and use the NHS” felt? [4]

We were not at all sure what message the Home Office appeared to be giving us and we might well be asking: “Is the UK Home Office really asking those of us with voting rights to vote Brexit?” I do not for a moment think my BMJ letter [4] had anything to do with the Home Office change of heart [2]. Rather I am convinced the meticulous account of what happened, plus the more than 250 international reactions [1] including Editorial comments in a leading Ghanaian newspaper, radio stations, and my son’s interaction with the British High Commissioner in Ghana [2] made Her Majesty’s Home Office have a change of heart.

DO BMJ & OTHER UK MEDICAL JOURNALS HAVE A ROLE FIGHTING INJUSTICE?

What happened a fortnight ago that became world news [1] could have had a sympathising comment from at least the highly-esteemed-overseas BMJ. It did not. We rather have the spectacle of the Editorial Office directing adult doctors how to vote in the forthcoming EU Referendum [5] just as they have no qualm at all “advising” these same adult doctors how to handle end of life issues. Hmm!

Competing Interests: None declared felix@konotey-ahulu.com

Felix ID Konotey-Ahulu MD(Lond) FRCP(Lond) DTMH(L’pool) FGCP FWACP FTWAS
Kwegyir Aggrey Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics, University of Cape Coast, Ghana and Former Consultant Physician Genetic Counsellor in Sickle Cell and Other Haemoglobinopathies, 9 Harley Street Ltd, Phoenix Hospital Group, London W1G 9AL

1 Konotey-Ahulu Dawid They always say it’s impossible until it’s done: A race against time and cold hearted bureaucracy [dawid.com ] June 9 2016] http://bit.ly/1PKGpRf or
http://www.dawid.com/medicine/they-always-say-its-impossible-until-its-d...

2. Konotey-Ahulu Dawid. A full apology from the UK Home office – and a change of heart! http://www.dawid.com/sustainability/a-full-apology-from-the-uk-home-offi... June 14 2016

3 Gulland Anne What would the NHS look like if we left the EU? BMJ 2016 353:i3027 doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i3027 June 2 2016

4 Konotey-Ahulu FID. Will Home Office VISA Refusal Prompt West African Relatives to Vote Brexit? http://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i3027/rapid-responses 10 June 2016 BMJ Rapid Response

5 Godlee Fiona, Abbasi Kamran, Gulland Anne, Coombes Rebecca. Why doctors should vote to remain in the EU on 23 June. BMJ 2016 353:doi 10.1136/bmj.i3302

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 June 2016
Felix ID Konotey-Ahulu
Kwegyir Aggrey Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics University of Cape Coast Ghana
Former Consultant Physician Genetic Counsellor in Sickle Cell and Other Haemoglobinopathies, 9 Harley Street, London W1G 9AL
14 Imperial Way, Hemel Hempstead, Herts HP3 9FJ