NHS warning: What Boris must do to avoid ‘several hundreds of millions’ in new costs

Boris Johnson’s Brexit is set to move ahead, prompting questions about the future of the NHS. Nuffield Trust policy analyst Mark Dayan told that the Prime Minister could help the NHS save “several hundred million pounds of extra cost a year” after Brexit if his trade deal with the EU contained specific mandates. Mr Dayan used a comparison with the previous Tory leader’s deal to explain.

He told “Theresa May’s Brexit deal set a course for a medium hard Brexit.

“It was one where we may have stayed in the customs union to some extent, but we were leaving the single market.

“It would have erected some barriers for people trying to get medicine and medical devices and other products the NHS needs in and out of the country.

“In other areas, there wouldn’t have been those barriers.”

Mr Dayan continued: “Now, Boris Johnson’s deal seems to set the course for a harder Brexit.

“Although we’ve not settled on what it will look like quite yet, that’s still to be negotiated.

“That means those barriers will tend to be that little bit higher.

“So costs will be somewhat higher than what they would have been under Theresa May’s Brexit deal.”

The Nuffield Trust analyst added: “It’s very difficult to give precise figures, probably several hundred million pounds extra cost a year.

“What could help to reduce that would be if we did manage to negotiate with the EU that we keep recognising some of their regulatory processes, inspections and so on, and they did the same for us.

“So negotiations could affect exactly how big that extra cost pressure is for the NHS.”

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When asked about what the future of the NHS looked like, Mr Dayan pointed to “two big strategic issues” for the organisation after Brexit.

“One of those is about pharmaceuticals and medicines and medical devices. At the moment, the UK has a strong pharmaceutical industry and it’s quite an attractive market, in part because it’s inside the European Union so it gives you that free trading access.

“If we don’t have that anymore, how do we persuade and encourage pharmaceutical companies and science clinical trials to stay in this country? What are the incentives that we might be able to give them to stay without just paying more for medicines, which wouldn’t benefit the NHS?

“The other issue to be sorted out for the long term after Brexit is where we are getting migrant staff from. We’re going to need them for another three or four years, at a minimum, because the staffing gap in the NHS is so big and it takes so long to fill it up with trainees.

“We don’t have to get those staff from the European Union, but if we want to get them from somewhere else, we’re going to have to really relax migrate requirements, particularly around social care, for where they currently are for people outside the EU.”

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