Commenting on the statement from the TUC and health unions on the threat posed to the NHS by a no-deal Brexit, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:
“Boris Johnson is setting a timebomb for the NHS. The promises of more cash for the health service made during the referendum were just empty words.
“No deal will instead leave the NHS gasping for breath, creating chaos for the hard-working staff and spelling potential disaster for patients.”
Notes to editors:
– The full statement (embargoed to 00.01hrs Thursday 29 August) reads:
“Together we represent more than a million health and care staff.
They’re the lifeblood of our health service, consistently going above and beyond to make sure we can all rely on world-class care when we need it most.
A no-deal Brexit could devastate the NHS and social care. And if this government goes ahead with it, health and care workers will be on the frontline.
As the Yellowhammer report makes clear, a no deal could cause significant disruption to the supply of medicine, lasting up to six months.
Many medicines, including life-saving agents for cancer diagnosis and therapy, cannot be stockpiled and for those that can, those stockpiles could run out.
These kinds of shortages and delays can be fatal. No responsible government should take that risk.
We have already seen thousands of EU staff leave since 2016. In the event of a no deal, tens of thousands of NHS and care workers from the EU would be left in limbo, intensifying the largest staffing crisis in the services’ history.
Ministers must unequivocally guarantee the right of European health and care staff to continue to live and work in the UK.
Finally, we know that the stronger our economy, the more funding we can dedicate to the NHS and social care.
Treasury assessments show that a no-deal scenario would shrink our economy by £90bn, reducing the money available for the NHS and other vital public services.
After a decade of austerity, health and social care budgets across the country are under immense pressure. With many care providers already in difficulty, a hit to the public finances could have additional knock-on consequences for the NHS.
With waiting times rising, operations being cancelled and yet another winter crisis looming, the health service cannot weather a long-term economic shock.
We call on the government to take no deal off the table.”
– It has been signed by Frances O’Grady, general secretary, TUC; Dave Prentis, general secretary, UNISON; Dr Chaand Nagpaul, council chair, British Medical Association; Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary, Royal College of Nursing; Gill Walton, general secretary, Royal College of Midwives; Tim Roache, general secretary, GMB; Gail Cartmail, assistant general secretary, Unite; Karen Middleton, chief executive, Chartered Institute of Physiotherapy; Richard Evans, chief executive, Society of Radiographers; Sam Aitkenhead, general secretary, British Orthoptic Society; Annette Mansell-Green, head of employment rights, British Dietetic Association.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local
government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.