Nicola Sturgeon calls for clarity on cost of Brexit to the NHS

Nicola Sturgeon wants the government to “come clean” over how the cost of Brexit will impact the NHS, according to the BBC

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is calling for the UK government to honestly and publicly address the cost of Brexit to the NHS.

Sturgeon has addressed the National Cancer Research Institute conference in Glasgow, stating that the government should “come clean”.

Brexit is still in the negotiation phase, and the UK is set to leave the EU on 29 March next year. Sturgeon has highlighted some of the issues that the NHS has already faced, such as the loss of millions in research funding and drugs companies stockpiling medicines.

The UK government, however, has said that it is confident that a beneficial deal will be reached. Both the UK and EU wish to avoid a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Speaking ahead of her speech at the conference, Sturgeon said: “Far from the £350m extra a week promised to the NHS from Brexit, there is growing evidence of mounting costs.

“It’s now time the UK government came clean on the scale of the cost to our health service. The prime minister failed to guarantee there would be no interruption in medicine supplies after Brexit.

“This came after UK ministers published a truncated tender, at a cost of tens of millions of pounds, associated with medicines stockpiling. The best way to avoid damage to the health service is to remain in the EU.

“But, short of that, the UK must stay in the customs union and single market – which is around eight times the size of the UK market alone – to minimise the damage of Brexit and ensure we continue to have access to the high quality frontline and research staff we need.”

A spokesperson for the UK government’s Department of Health and Social Care responded:

“The government is confident of reaching a deal with the EU that benefits patients and the NHS – but we are preparing for all situations and we are working closely with partners to ensure the proper provision of all medicines in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

“The department is working closely with pharmaceutical companies to minimise costs and we have received good engagement from the industry so far.”

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