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Warning over Wales NHS Brexit 'catastrophe'

Warning over Wales NHS Brexit 'catastrophe'
From BBC - October 25, 2017

Any Brexit which means leaving the single market could be catastrophic for the NHS and particularly devastating in Wales, a health academic has warned.

Nick Fahy, a health policy senior researcher at the University of Oxford said a hard or no deal Brexit could leave patients "at immediate risk".

He also warned if EU staff left the UK, London could "suck in" Welsh NHS staff.

The Welsh Conservatives said a key aim in talks was to ensure healthcare delivery "remains seamless".

Mr Fahy outlined issues ranging from potential risks to the NHS budget, workforce shortages and uncertainty over future arrangements for research and medicines.

"It's going to be very hard, I do not think we should be under any illusions about that - and that's why what kind of Brexit we have really matters," he said.

He is the co-author of a report in The Lancet which looks at potential consequences for the NHS from different Brexit scenarios.

"If we have a soft Brexit - where we remain pretty well integrated within the single market, where we continue to have an ability for EU doctors and nurses to come and work here and feel confident about their future in the country, then I think the impact can be managed and be relatively minor," he said.

"If we have a hard or no deal Brexit, I think the impact risks being catastrophic."

He said it posed a "substantial and real threat to healthcare".

"We have not got slack in the NHS; we are not coming at this from a position of strength, but from a position where each winter we breathe a sigh of relief that we managed to make it through without the NHS collapsing and that does not give us a situation of reserves we can draw on."

Mr Fahy is a specialist adviser to the Commons health committee and has worked for both the Department of Health and European Commission.

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