Brexit threatens to take the political will from wholesale health and social sector reform

The former chief executive of NHS and Department of Health, Nigel Crisp, has said that the government’s focus on the impact of Brexit may overshadow the need for urgent reform in the health and social care sector.

In the absence of a major public crisis in healthcare he suggests that health and social care will fall further down the list of priorities for Government.  Some may argue that we have already hit the point of a major public crisis with health and social care facing an existential crisis in terms of both funding and capacity.  There seems to be a continual barrage of information flowing from leaders in the sector that something needs to be done to properly address the problems the sector is facing, and yet, no further support was given by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement.

Nigel Crisp also speaks of the impact Brexit may have on the staffing crisis across the sector at all levels which may put 155,000 EU citizens at risk and certainly isn’t something which the sector is prepared to weather. Another potential issue raised is the potential for brain drain and the loss of research funding to the UK from EU funds and EU partners who might be discouraged to continue to work with UK operators post-Brexit.

As with all things Brexit-related, much rests on the precise nature of Brexit which is as yet undetermined; the focus on reform of the health and social care sector to make it more sustainable will certainly drop down the list of priorities whilst Brexit continues to dominate the UK political landscape.

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