Brexit will be bad for health of Britons

British experts predict the exit from the EU will be bad for Britons’ health.

Brexit advocates, in fact, celebrated their win by immediately conceding a giant campaign falsehood: They suddenly denied claiming that almost a half-billion dollars wrongly was going to the EU, and that these sums would, post Brexit, help to support the embattled British National Health Service. That claim, analysts said, had been crucial in persuading many voters to back Brexit. But a leader of the exit movement said in a televised interview that the assertion “was a mistake,” adding, “No, I can’t, and I would never, make that claim. And it was one of the mistakes I believe that the Leave campaign made.”

The flummoxed, broadcast moderator replied: “Hang on a moment. That was one of the Leave campaign’s adverts. That the money was going to NHS. That’s why many people voted.”

“They made a mistake in doing that,” the top Brexit opponent responded.

There’s no question that Britain’s NHS, which provides universal care, struggles mightily to serve an aging population in fiscally austere times. The system has been beset by overflowing hospitals, labor woes with its physicians, and concerns about its role and identity. It is a mammoth and ambitious system, which by some accounts is the planet’s fifth largest employer.

That means, among other things, the system needs a steady supply of medical professionals–and health experts, who took an unusually public stance against Brexit, noted that means Britain needs to stay close with a huge talent supply in Europe.

Health experts say that the EU and its member nations provide some of the largest sources of health and research dollars; medical science should know no national bounds and researchers and their work need to easily flow across many top centers not just in Britain but across the continent. It’s unclear now what will happen with this path-blazing study.

With the vast amount of trade and tourism that spans geography, citizens of many nations also need to be secure that they can get medical care if and when they need it, and EU treaties and agreements provided that, not for the British but also for Europeans visiting and working in the U.K., experts said. They noted that EU members coordinate on disease and vector control, especially in crises. As they wrote, ahead of the vote:

Exit from the European Union would not preclude the United Kingdom from negotiating future agreements in areas such as research, healthcare, the regulation of health professionals and initiatives to improve public health, separately with each of the countries of the European Union or with the European Union as a whole. But the outcome of these negotiations cannot be guaranteed and the European Union will not allow a non-member country to be part of any future standard setting meetings. The United Kingdom would thus no longer be a participant in making policy in these areas, but would instead receive instructions from the European Union.

Just as immigration has become a flash point in political discussions and policy making about health care delivery in the United States, the issue flared in Brexit. Fact-based research showing that immigration to Britain is not nearly as large (by numbers) nor draining on public resources clearly failed to dent the consciousness of Brexit supporters.

The pundits are pointing to trends in voter sentiment that burst forth in Brexit, and wondering aloud if these, too, will be a force in this fall’s U.S. presidential race. With our great nation at stake, including the health of our people, here’s hoping that voters do careful, thoughtful research, and they don’t get swayed by raw, emotional appeals.

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