Last week, May promised the NHS additional 20 billion pounds (about $27 billion) annually by 2023 by saving the money that could have gone to the European Union otherwise. However, the UK healthcare is likely to be hit by a staffing crisis due to the potential decrease of EU immigration.
Costs of Losing EU Staff
Keeping EU personnel as well as recruiting new staff is a key problem for the NHS, Senior Economics Analyst at The Health Foundation Ben Gershlick told Sputnik.
"One big factor is that there are major problems with staff retention in the NHS and it's only gotten much worse. It's also not simply about retention but also recruitment of EU staff which has actually already slowed quite a lot, so the result of that is that there are vacancies that simply need filling," Gershlick said.
The analyst pointed out that 5-6 percent of the NHS staff was from the European Union, and their leaving would put a strain on the service.
"Staff is also the major cost for the NHS – about two thirds of NHS spending is on staff, so when the cost of those staff increases, say with recruitment for replacements, that makes quite a major impact and of course blows these promised numbers out of the water quite quickly," the economic analyst said.
"I really think there's going to have to be more answers than what she's given so far. The other problem with Brexit is where the staff are coming from… the professional staff that the NHS depends on; much of them are from Europe and recruitment has dropped to nothing in some areas such as Spain and Eastern Europe and elsewhere, so this is just an extra layer of crisis for the NHS," Lister told Sputnik.
Lister further questioned the numbers given by May, suggesting that the final payment to the bloc could "run into the tens of billions," which would cut into any potential savings.
"It's generally accepted by most economists that leaving the European Union is going to involve a substantial hit on the economy at least until any kind of future trade agreement is put in place, so I don't think there is any extra money in the pot; it either doesn't exist in the first place or it's been spent," Lister noted.
"I think that's the reason to rush this kind of statement out without really looking too closely as to where the money is supposed to come from. It's amazing May's gotten away with it as much as she has," Lister said.
May has said UK citizens would have to pay more in order to increase NHS funding but promised that this would be done in a "balanced way."
"Unfortunately the Tory party doesn't have a very good record when it comes to raising taxes in a progressive way. There are various ways in which they could raise that kind of money for the health service, but I don't think any of them are ideologically acceptable to this government," the activist said.
In 2017-2018, the spending on health in England was around 125 billion pounds, or roughly $164 billion. Out of this sum, about 110 billion pounds was spent on the NHS England, while the rest went toward various public health initiatives and education.
The views and opinions expressed by the speakers do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.