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NHS Confederation: Health service can’t afford ‘Brexit’ vote

The NHS cannot afford the ‘period of economic instability’ which a vote to leave the EU would likely cause, the NHS Confederation has warned.

As its annual conference launched today, chair Stephen Dorrell used his opening speech to warn of the potential impact on healthcare funding in case the British public does vote to leave the union in next week’s referendum.

Mr Dorrell, a former Conservative MP, health minister, and chair of the House of Commons Health Committee, said that in order to get NHS finances back on track – from a position where 65% of hospital trusts are currently in deficit – the system needed to be reformed.

Mr Dorrell said evidence suggests a ‘Brexit’ vote would cause ‘a period of economic instability’, which the NHS can ill afford.

He said: ‘We need to invest in building a sustainable society where we help people stay well, focusing on health and care in a place, rather than single institutions working in silos. Securing the necessary funding will be important for achieving our vision.

‘We need a strong economy to guarantee the growth in funding that the health and care service requires and evidence suggests leaving the EU would undermine this.’

The NHS Confederation, which represents 85% of NHS providers and commissioners, is meeting for a three-day conference in Manchester which will also see speeches from current health secretary Jeremy Hunt and NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens.