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Tuesday, 13 November 2018

No-deal Brexit could leave NHS with £2.3BN cost before 2020, report warns

Written by Ella Pickover

A no-deal Brexit could lead to the NHS forking out £2.3 billion by 2020, new analysis suggests.

The additional cost could come as a result of increased purchasing of supplies and may have an impact on patient care, according to the Nuffield Trust.

A new blog published on the think tank's website states that such extra costs could divert the funding available to improve patient care.

The estimate was formed after analysis of academic studies on trade, NHS finances, and the Government's Brexit impact assessment.

It examined estimated increases in prices for medical devices, such as X-ray machines, medicines and other supplies such as food and bedding.

While the exact figure is difficult to predict with certainty, the article concludes that the English health service's share of £2.3 billion in higher bills "would take up nearly all the money our calculations suggest will be free for improvements in patient care next year and the year after".

Author of the blog, Mark Dayan, the Nuffield Trust's Brexit expert and policy analyst, said: "Even with quite cautious assumptions about how much prices would rise, this calculation suggests a no-deal Brexit would have a noticeable impact on NHS finances.

"That money will have to be taken from somewhere, and £2.3 billion is equivalent to the entire annual budget of around six NHS trusts.

"Unfortunately, a no-deal scenario would also mean less money in the Treasury to bail out the service.

"The days of indefinite austerity for the health service would be back."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: "The Government is confident of reaching a deal with the EU that benefits patients and the NHS. However, as a responsible Government we are also preparing for a range of potential outcomes in the unlikely event of a no deal.

"As part of our contingency planning, we are taking all necessary steps with NHS England, suppliers and pharmaceutical companies to ensure patients continue to receive the high standards of care they expect."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Stefan Rousseau / PA Wire.