A no-deal Brexit could be a catastrophe for NHS services and workforce, patients and the health of the nation, the British Medical Association (BMA) has warned.
In the event of the UK leaving the EU without an agreement, the UK would be outside the European Rare Diseases Network, which the BMA claims would disrupt the treatment of 1 million patients.
It also warns that the UK’s ability to tackle pandemics would be weakened because it would lose access to the European Centre for Disease and Prevention Control, the agency devoted to strengthening EU defences against infectious diseases.
It also says a no-deal scenario would also have an impact on doctor workforce mobility if a hard border was reinstated between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and because of doubts over the mutual recognition of professional qualifications.
The UK government announced in its Brexit white paper that it would like to see continued cross-border recognition of seven professions, including doctors and pharmacists, after Brexit. But this would be contingent on a deal being agreed.
The warnings come in a briefing paper produced by the BMA, members of which supported the campaign for the public to have a say on any final Brexit deal, at the organisation’s annual conference held in Brighton in June 2018.
Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA council, said: “Some will say we are scaremongering by warning of the dangers of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, but this is not the case.
“We aren’t shying away from being honest about what is at stake for health services if the UK and the EU fail to reach a deal. As experts in delivering health services and providing care for our patients, we have a duty to set out the consequences of leaving the EU with no future deal in place.”