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Leaving EU would be ‘detrimental’ to public health


The health and wellbeing of people in the UK would “almost certainly” suffer if there is a vote to leave the European Union, public health experts have claimed.

The Faculty of Public Health, which has 3,800 members, said EU legislation on the environment, consumer safety, food quality, human rights and social policy has “powerfully” contributed to better health and wellbeing.

“It would almost certainly be detrimental to people’s health”

John Ashton

In a report published today it said the UK benefited substantially from EU funding for public health research, contributing 11% of the research budget and receiving 16% in return.

It added that 10% of the UK’s health and social care workforce are from EU member countries, with free movement of citizens helping to plug staffing gaps.

EU investment in poorer regions was described in the report as “extremely valuable” in supporting growth, creating jobs and tackling inequality, with “no guarantee” that the UK would plug funding shortfalls in the future.

The report also highlighted that the EU Social Chapter was providing generous maternity and paternity leave, as well as protecting workers’ rights.

Professor John Ashton, Faculty of Public Health president, admitted there was little evidence on the health impact of the UK leaving the EU, but concluded it would have a negative effect “on the balance of probability”.

Faculty of Public Health

Leaving EU would be ‘detrimental’ to public health

John Ashton

He said: “Our analysis suggests that it would almost certainly be detrimental to people’s health in the UK for us to leave the EU. Remaining in the EU would be in the best interests of everyone’s health and wellbeing.

“Our analysis is that it is better for the UK to remain a team player within Europe, where we benefit from shared intelligence, response and action,” he added.

Public health responsibilities were transferred from the NHS to local government and Public Health England in 2013.

The Local Government Association has said government funding for public health will be cut by 9.7%, or £331m in cash terms, by 2020. This follows a cut of £200m in 2015.


Readers' comments (5)

  • 1) This presupposes that whatever money is currently allocated will actually continue even if we remain; 2) That there will be the same money-pot to choose to allocate anywhere - if you look across the EU, failing economies will require more funding from a diminishing tax-pot, so funding basic survival rather than anything above that is more, not less likely; 3) That we would not leave at some future stage when the City is under risk of becoming 'continentalised', which would likely see money leave the City or the City not perform; 4) The EU project is about the EU replacing national governments and has always been so. That this is rebuffed here and there has not altered the goal. The present this in economic terms alone is misleading. The UK will never get to the stage that it become simply a region in the EU, so this will rumble on at tax-payers expense for decades; 5) The EU is responsible for a poorer economic situation due to being a Protectionist NOT a Free Trade state. When the Euro is added, it makes it harder to trade out of poverty; 6) The UK can make its own laws and funding arrangements. Politicians can be replaced via the vote. Aston has in effect attributed UKs social benefits to bureaucrats and the contribution of other EU-counties. Considering the mass unemployment across the EU, and the movement to more prosperous EU countries to counter this, can he really view the EU as enhancing? This view seems to be stuck in the 1990s, when some saw it with dewey-eyes whilst others new the obvious would become apparent, down the road.

    I urge people to watch Patrick Minford before the Select Committee on the EU. Social programmes are funded via taxation, and without the movement of goods and services, coupled with a positive and sustainable social environment, all the 'funding' is fragile at best.

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  • A lot of the EU migrants who are 'plugging the gaps' in social care have no experience in care and no desire to pursue careers in care. For many, as with non EU migrants, it's a door into the UK. I recently employed a plumber who had previously worked for a local Dom Care Agency with a poor reputation. He was one of many Eastern Europeans that had joined this company until they found more suitable jobs.
    We need to improve the pay and work conditions for care workers, instead of allowing the government to 'plug the gaps' with immigrants.

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  • I wonder how impartial the Faculty of Public Health is. They were partially funded by the EU up to 2012 and completed their Public Health Innovation and Research in Europe (PHIRE) last year. I therefore tend to be rather wary of adding their scare stories to all the others I have been fed about the 'dangers' of leaving the EU.

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  • And should we leave the EU the 7 plagues of Egypt, famine and pestilence shall fall upon us and all the evils on Pandoras box will be visited upon us. Am I the only one who feels the remainers are making it up as they go along?

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  • It is good to see common sense and wisdom putting in its place the propaganda being poured out by the remainder group who all seem inspired only by looking at narrow personal agendas. Little attention has been drawn to the unpredictable economic and financial outlook of the Euro zone - and that was before Mrs Merkel opened the floodgates which can only eventually totally destabilise European values and cultures.

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