Intended for healthcare professionals

Editor's Choice

Brexit: doctors’ duty is to inform patients

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 05 September 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l5382

Re: Brexit: doctors’ duty is to inform patients

The "NHS bus" implied a commitment to a standard of health care enjoyed by citizens in other EU countries. This is a statutory right of all EU citizens and included in regulations to which the UK is currently committed until Brexit.

We have a ratio of doctors and nurses to population lower than that of any European country except Albania, and lower than in any other industrialised country worldwide. We are losing medical professionals faster than they can be replaced.

Recent experience as a patient in hospital increased my admiration for the staff, of all grades and nationalities, at the service they gave their patients while hampered by inadequate numbers of colleagues. They clearly Cared, but the politicians, who do not use the NHS as ordinary patients, are unaware of the reality from the patient's perspective. They appear not to Care. They never have to wait for perhaps 3 weeks to see a GP, or wait months for a specialist consultation and investigations before going on to a long waiting list for definitive treatment. They have never had their surgical operation cancelled at the last minute 10 times in 1 year like 1 individual reported recently in the Daily Mail.

Other EU citizens would not tolerate such a service..

Did the prospect of a patient-orientated NHS tempt the population to vote to Leave? If so, by what percentage and why was it paradoxical in Wales (which has the worst health outcomes in the UK, but the highest level of EU investment)?

If not, was the "NHS bus" a misconceived waste of money, time and energy?

Competing interests: No competing interests

11 September 2019
John A Dodge
(1) Emeritus Professor of Child Health., (2) Hon Professor, Swansea University
(1) Queens University of Belfast (2) University of Swansea