Within a matter of weeks, we are going to have to make one of the biggest decisions of our lives - one that will potentially have a huge impact on life as we know it. But which of the two choices – brexit or stay, will honestly protect our precious health services?
Politically charged speculation
So far from what I can see and hear, all the politically charged conversations/statements are based on speculation rather than fact. Yes government organisations are suggesting that huge amounts of analysis are being undertaken to provide a ‘best guess’ as to what the various scenarios would mean in the future, but as this has never been done by any other country, it is unchartered water and therefore makes for an incredibly hard decision.
What doesn’t help the decision making process is the fact that people are using this referendum as a way of positioning themselves as either current or future figures of power. How does that help the rest of us who genuinely want to make the ‘right’ decision for ourselves, our families, friends and the rest of the UK as a whole?
I read the government’s handout that was pushed through our doors (at significant cost) in the vain hope that it might shed some light on the situation. Sadly though it emphasised the government’s lack of grip on reality – it was badly designed (written the wrong way round and far above the average person’s intellect). But above all, it said NOTHING.
Brexit vote and our health services
One of the most important decision making factors for me is: will the health service that I hold dear to me; that provides care free at the point of access (well for now anyway with the budget situation as it is) function the same if we choose the brexit route?
So far the main reason for justifying the brexit choice is that of immigration and how it ‘might’ impact on our border controls and reduce the number of immigrants entering the country. But from an NHS perspective we have a massive clinical staff shortage – look at Chorley’s A&E situation – closed for weeks with no sign of resolve. How then would ‘potentially’ closing our borders help the recruitment drives, which are being undertaken by all trusts in the country, to recruit staff from across the world? Surely adding more regulation, bureaucracy and paperwork will completely kill off (or seriously hamper) any chances of enticing precious skilled international clinical staff?
A huge percentage of the population choose to go abroad on holiday. For years now we have had a reciprocal agreement with the countries in Europe around healthcare whilst on holiday. Will these reciprocal agreements hold if we choose bexit? My guess would be no – but no one is telling me anything either way.
The NHS looks to international countries for inspiration around new medicines, technologies and ways of working. Will our European counterparts really just continue to work with us in the same ‘partnership’ manner if we choose the brexit route? Yes global leaders from outside of the EU are making all sorts of claims about the implications of brexit, but what do the EU leaders really believe will happen? What do the clinical leads of EU health organisations believe will happen?
The commercial world doesn’t seem to be swaying the decision much either. Yes there are conversations around a bexit vote un-stabilising the EU and maybe creating it’s eventual breakup. But there also seems to be an appetite amongst the other EU countries to potentially follow us and a brexit vote - as they are watching with eagerness, in the hope that they might be next in line for holding a similar referendum?
There are also conversations about a brexit vote leading to the privatisation of the NHS. We already have private contractors providing a large percentage of our healthcare services – GPs, dentists, pharmacies and almost every other service in between. In fact, if we can’t resolve the current financial imbalance, the NHS as it currently operates, might naturally be forced down a more private route regardless of the in/out vote.
Chartering new waters
The country has been united this year with the celebrations around the Queen’s 90th birthday. It has brought a sense of patriotism back to our shores – reminding us of the historical power that we used to hold over numerous Commonwealth countries and beyond. By voting brexit would we be in a position to re-charter those pioneering waters and steer a better more powerful future for ourselves? Or are we now really too far entangled in European bureaucracy, agreements and paperwork, so that anything other than a stay vote would be economic suicide for us?
Communications and engagement?
Two-way communication and engagement should underpin ‘conversations’ like this, but they are just not happening. There should be unbiased key messages based on facts, and a planned schedule of multi-layered communication and engagement channels and events that should have been used to play out those messages for months now - enabling everyone to be as involved as they would like with this incredibly important decision.
People are often dismissive of NHS consultations and the supposed lack of engagement that the local population has with them. Well this referendum should have been the largest non-politically charged ‘debate’ in history. When it comes to election times, the politicians come on battle busses and knock at our doors to try and engage and persuade us – so why has nothing similar (non political) happened for the referendum debate? It is as though we are all being treated like mushrooms: being kept in the dark, fed politically charged messages of choice, and left to come to the single decision that politically suits! But that angers me and it should anger everyone. We are intelligent people, so treat us as such, and let’s have an adult informed discussion.
Bye the way, I am not in the least bit politically motivated or biased – I just want to make an honest informed decision in a few weeks time. Yes I can go on gut instinct, but what I would really like (and I know others would too) is to make a ‘right’ informed and educated choice! We will only get one chance at this – if we make the wrong decision it will be too late…!
If anyone can shed any more un-politically biased light on the impact of the referendum on our healthcare services then please get in touch.