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 £10 billion 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.
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.