’s separation from the European Union (EU) could damage the country’s publicly funded health care system, referred to as the National Health Service (NHS), according to a senior NHS official.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said he took warnings of possible recession in the event of Brexit “very seriously”, adding that would be “very dangerous” for the service.
“When the British economy
sneezes, the NHS catches a cold,” he said, adding it would be a “terrible moment” at a time when the NHS needed extra investment.
Stevens’s comments come after a handful of British and EU officials, including Bank of England governor Mark Carney, have warned that voting to leave the EU could hurt the UK
“If Mark Carney is right, then that is a severe concern for the National Health Service, because it would be very dangerous if at precisely the moment the NHS is going to need extra funding, actually the economy goes into a tailspin and that funding is not there,” the NHS England boss said.
“It’s been true for 68 years of NHS history that when the British economy sneezes, the NHS catches a cold and this would be a terrible moment for that to happen at precisely the time the NHS is going to need extra investment.”
But former foreign secretary Lord Owen told the BBC’s Sunday Politics: “Simon Stevens is the manager of the NHS which is currently £3 billion in debt.
“This man has presided now for a sufficient time to judge his management skills. In almost every part of the National Health Service there is an acute crisis.”
The UK will hold a referendum on June 23 on whether the country should remain a member of the union.
Membership of the European Union has been a controversial issue in the UK since the country joined the then European Economic Community in 1973.
Those in favor of a British withdrawal from the EU argue that outside the bloc, London would be better positioned to conduct its own trade negotiations, better able to control immigration and free from what they believe to be excessive EU regulations and bureaucracy.
Those in favor of remaining in the bloc argue that leaving it would risk the UK’s prosperity, diminish its influence over world affairs, and result in trade barriers between the UK and the EU.