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Opinion: ‘Vote leave to protect the health service’


Speaking on behalf of the Vote Leave campaign, Conservative MP for Lewes and former nurse Maria Caulfield makes her case to Nursing Times readers on the need to exit the European Union.

Our NHS is being hit hard by population growth driven in large part by migration from other EU member states of 270,000 a year. This pressure will continue to mount if we remain members.

The numbers coming to the UK are likely to increase further as people escape crisis-hit areas of the Eurozone such as Greece. In addition, five low-income countries are being lined up to join the EU – Turkey, Macedonia, Serbia, Albania and Montenegro.

To ‘vote leave’ is a vote to protect the NHS. A major trade deal with the United States could hand increasing control and power over the NHS to the EU.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) allows for an undemocratic institution potentially to tear down regulatory barriers and reduce protection against big businesses who want unprecedented access to Europe’s public health services.

I welcome recent moves to reduce this threat, however the NHS is still in the firing line. The former trade minister Lord Livingstone has admitted that talks concerning the NHS in relation to TTIP are still on the table. The best way to ensure the safety of our NHS is to leave the EU, safeguarding our health service for generations to come.

The ‘remain’ campaign has claimed that leaving the EU would have an economic effect on the UK equivalent to cutting the NHS budget by one third. This is yet another case of “project fear”.

Britain currently sends £10bn a year net of taxpayers’ money to the EU to fund an undemocratic institution. Instead, it should be invested in Britain’s priorities, like providing patients and staff with excellent resources and increasing capacity.

Conservative Party

Opinion: ‘Vote leave to protect the health service’

Maria Caulfield

As a nurse with 20 years’ experience in the NHS, I know just what a vital contribution overseas staff make. Some people have claimed the health service will face a staffing crisis if we vote to leave on June 23rd. But it is absurd to suggest the UK would turn away much-needed doctors and nurses.

In the ‘leave’ campaign, we want fair, well controlled migration. It will be built using an Australian-style points system that welcomes the skilled people we need in the NHS and other walks of life, but ends the uncontrolled free-for-all which allows anyone from an EU country to come and live here.

Those with skills we desperately need, like doctors and nurses, will be welcome not just from Europe but the Commonwealth and elsewhere. By ending the unfair discrimination against non-Europeans, we will provide more opportunities for talented healthcare professionals from across the world to contribute to our health service and provide patients with the best care.

By remaining in the EU we have no legally binding assurance that the NHS, its staff and patients will be protected. The UK will have little power over the EU changing its mind and policy in relation to agreements such as TTIP.

On June 23rd I am voting ‘leave’ to protect one of the most fundamental and valued institutions in our society: the National Health Service.


Readers' comments (2)

  • The EU, according to treaty, is to replace nation states and remove power from the people. This is clear and not hidden. 'States' repeatedly voting down legislation only kicks to the can down the road; they come back with it a bit later on - obviously, because without treaty change, there is no change of ultimate agenda. Hence, the EU-army is popping up as a topic, as it was always part and parcel of the process.

    As the sovereign country, the european healthcare will be decided centrally, not in states (countries). This industry/service will involve cross-state funding (because the EU is now the country). Whether of not it is called the NHS would be merely an geographical administrative term, but mean little in real terms.

    Instead of saying well some say this for IN, and others say that for OUT. 1) Ask yourself if you want the EU to be your sovereign country or not; 2) Do you actually think that the EU will actually survive OR that Parliament would actually let full transfer of sovereignty happen? If the answer is NO to the above, then voting IN is merely not voting to leave at this point rather than expressing a desire to leave now (with the transitional period of approx 2-yrs for formally disentangling the initial necessaries and settling pressing issues, such as pension rights and the right to remain for EU-immigrants to UK and UK-emigrants residing in the EU, and other funding issues.

    Then cast your vote - be it with conviction, or with a 'for the moment' approach.

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  • Everyone recognises that a strong NHS only exists in a strong economy. The question we must ask ourselves is will Brexit make our economy stronger. I have had no reassurances from the leave campaign that the economy will be stronger - sure they try to confuse us with the money that we pay out, some of which seems to stay, some of which seems to go, but come back. But the leave campaign have failed to convince me the economy will be stronger. The weight of evidence and opinion seems to suggest the economy will nose dive.

    If we think it's tough now imagine what it would be like if our economy took a downward turn.

    The only way to save the NHS is a vote to remain.

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