Frances O’Grady: Leave vote’s £30bn price-tag would put NHS in trouble

Leave chiefs 'love the NHS in the way Dracula loves a blood bank'


Frances O’Grady will warn today that a Leave vote would harm the NHS, costing the public purse enough money to fund the service for three months.

The TUC General Secretary will say Brexit ‘will put our economy in trouble, and that will put our NHS in trouble’, by reducing government income by around £30 billion per year.

She will be speaking at the Our NHS: Safer IN rally at the TUC’s Congress House, as new TUC analysis finds the annual net reduction to government income is likely to be equivalent to 25 per cent of the NHS England budget by 2019/20.

O’Grady will also take aim at the leaders of the Leave campaign, accusing them of being ‘fibbers, fakes and phonies’ and loving the NHS ‘the way Dracula loves a blood bank’.

The TUC says that on the basis of a predicted blow to GDP of 2.1 per cent and 3.5 per cent, the overall hit to public finances after Brexit –  even with direct gains from money the UK currently gives the EU –  is likely to be a reduction of between £20 billion and £40 billion in 1919/20.

The budget for the NHS in England for 2015/16 is £116.4 billion, but by 2020 will be around £120 billion per year according to the Kings Fund.

The findings released today are based on figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and the King’s Fund, and back the concerns of NHS England Executive Simon Stevens, who has said he believes the NHS budget will suffer if the UK leaves the EU.

O’Grady will also refer to the 50,000 NHS England staff from the EU, and suggest their future in the UK will be put at risk by a Leave vote.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady is expected to say:

‘If we leave the EU, the public purse is likely to lose £30 billion each year, which is enough money to fund the whole of NHS England for three months.

The truth is that being in the EU makes our NHS better. So if you believe in the NHS and want to safeguard it for our children and grandchildren, make sure you vote Remain.’

The comments are a direct response the Leave camp, who have made the NHS a key plank of their campaign, arguing that ‘Our EU contributions are enough to build a new, fully-staffed NHS hospital every week’.

They have also falsely claimed the UK gives £350 million to the EU per week – the figure doesn’t take into account the large rebate the UK gets, or the overall economic benefits of being in the EU.

O’Grady will also warn of an ‘NHS staffing crisis and the longest waiting lists we’ve ever known’ if the NHS is denied the workforce it needs to continue.

She will aim her fire at the Leave camp’s claims on the NHS, accusing them of hypocrisy:

‘How dare the hard-Right Tories and UKIP who run the Leave campaigns pose as NHS champions. Let’s be honest, they love the NHS in the way that Dracula loves a blood bank.

The Leave campaign are fibbers, fakes and phonies. As Dr Sarah Wollaston said when she quit the Leave campaign, their claim it would mean more money for the NHS ‘simply isn’t true’.

Boris Johnson says he doesn’t believe in a free NHS and people should pay for health services.

Nigel Farage says the NHS should be replaced by private health insurance. And UKIP’s millionaire backer says that if it was up to him the NHS would be privatised.’

With just nine days to go and the polls narrowing, Remainers are stepping up their campaign and taking on misleading arguments from Brexiteers.

Unions have been at the forefront of the pro-EU fightback in recent weeks.

Josiah Mortimer is a regular contributor to Left Foot Forward. You can follow him on Twitter@josiahmortimer.

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