Revealed: UK’s last-minute dash to deal with Brexit healthcare chaos

Shouldn't they have got hiring a bit earlier?

Union Jack and European flag

Just months before the UK fully leaves the EU, the government is trying to recruit 16 civil servants to manage the disruption to healthcare caused by Brexit.

The Department of Health and Social Care is recruiting 16 civil servants to deal with the effect of Brexit on the UK’s health system.

The UK’s transition period ends on December 31, and arrangements must be made by October 31. One criteria for these candidates is “delivering at pace”.

This team will be also be tasked with “developing any necessary legislation” and “ensuring operational readiness for the end of the transition period”. In total, the civil servants will be paid at least £610,000 a year.

Membership of the EU has helped British people to access healthcare across the EU and vice versa. This is called ‘reciprocal healthcare’.

Since the Brexit vote, the government has been trying to arrange reciprocal healthcare arrangements with individual EU member states.

However, the NHS Confederation, which represents NHS health authorties, recently warned: “There is a risk that some or all of the agreements required will not be reached.”

The Confederation continued: “With only two months left for agreements to be made, the potential for a ‘light deal’ is emerging more strongly.

They continued: “With no agreements, or limited agreements, in place on the issues related to health, the adjustment for the NHS and health sector more widely will be significant and could affect the health and wellbeing of patients and citizens.”

In particular, the Confederation warned that the EHIC card could cease to work for Brits abroad from January 2021. Any requirement to charge EU citizens to access the NHS could also create a new administrave burden on the NHS, they said.

Other impacts of Brexit on the NHS include difficulties recruiting and retaining staff and ensuring the delivery of medicines from the EU.

Joe Lo is a co-editor of Left Foot Forward

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