Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature EU Referendum and Health

What the leave campaign said about the NHS, and how the experts answered

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 16 June 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i3261
  1. Sophie Arie, freelance journalist, London, UK
  1. sarie{at}

Claim 1: Millions of pounds the UK gives to the EU each year could be spent on the NHS

“We should stop sending £350m [€450m; $500m] per week to unelected politicians in Brussels and spend our money on our priorities, like the NHS.” 1


Sir Andrew Dilnot, chair of the independent UK Statistics Authority, said the figure was “potentially misleading” and that the information given out by the Vote Leave campaign lacked clarity.2

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said that it did not believe, as the Leave Campaign suggested, that the £8bn annual windfall from leaving the European Union it has calculated would lead to a cash injection for the NHS. “There is virtual unanimity among economic forecasters that the negative effect of leaving the EU would be greater.”3

NHS England chief executive, Simon Stevens, expressed deep concern over the effect of a possible economic downturn, as predicted by Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, on the NHS. Stevens said that figures from …

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