England Northern Ireland Scotland Wales

Last updated:

Brexit: give the people the last word

ARM 2017 Motion 67 Dr Terry John
JOHN: 'No one voted for an impoverished health service'

The public must be given the final say on the Brexit deal for the sake of patients and the NHS, the BMA has said.

The association has said that doctors cannot remain silent in the face of a potential disaster posed by the UK’s upcoming exit from the EU next March, BMA international committee chair warned Terry John at a rally on Brexit and the NHS.

Dr John was one of more than half a dozen speakers from across the medical and healthcare profession addressing crowds at an event in London on 15 September organised by the People’s Vote group.

In his address, he said that many of the pre-referendum claims concerning Brexit and the NHS had been revealed to be untrue.

He said: ‘As doctors, our first responsibility is to our patients, a role that requires us to be honest and to speak out on matters that concern us.

‘The vision described by those running the pro-Brexit campaigns was that by leaving the EU, we would see a rapid easing of pressure on NHS services, see waiting times evaporate, and doctors being freed up for consultations and treatment.

‘The very idea that Brexit will enrich and energise our health service has now revealed itself to be untrue.’

In reiterating the association’s position of being opposed to Brexit and for allowing people to be given the opportunity to vote on the final Brexit deal, he said that no one, whether they voted leave or remain, wanted to see a weakened NHS.

He said: ‘No one who cast their vote in 2016 was voting for an impoverished or weakened health service. No one voted for a situation in which thousands of highly skilled EU citizens would feel compelled to consider leaving the NHS, or to avoid coming to the UK in the first place.

‘No one voted to see their country’s health secretary admit, just seven months ahead of Brexit, that his Government was directing drug companies to stockpile weeks’ worth of vaccines, blood products and other medicines, ahead of a possible no deal Brexit.’

He added: ‘The future of our NHS, and the future of our country, are too important for those of us concerned about the Brexit negotiations to remain silent and subdued passengers in a vehicle increasingly out of control.’

Find out more about the BMA’s work on Brexit

Read more from Tim Tonkin and follow on Twitter.