In a major admission Vote Leave have today made clear that if Britain leaves Europe free emergency healthcare for UK nationals travelling in the EU will be lost.
The Chair of Vote Leave has said that money spent by the NHS reimbursing other EU countries who give UK nationals free healthcare “could have been much better spent.”
Ending the current system would force UK holidaymakers paying the full cost of medical treatment when they fall ill or suffer an accident in an EU country, which, using Vote Leave, means a £773 million a year bill for healthcare while on holiday.
Under the present system, British nationals are entitled to a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), giving them the right to access state-provided healthcare on temporary stays at a reduced cost, or sometimes free.
In a press release today, the Vote Leave campaign says:
“Vote Leave can today reveal that the UK pays on average £723 million a year more to EU countries for the medical treatment of UK nationals than it receives back for treating EU nationals.”
Their chair, Gisela Stuart, says:
“This money could have been much better spent.”
This is a stark admission that, if Britain leaves Europe, the UK government would no longer participate in the EHIC system, meaning Brits on holiday in Europe would have to cover the full cost of their medical treatment.
According to Vote Leave’s own figures, provided by the Department of Health, the full cost of healthcare British holidaymakers would have had to pay had Britain not been in the EU would be £6.181bn over the last eight years.
Senior medical practitioners vehemently disagree with Vote Leave. Today, nearly 200 senior figures in British medicine wrote to The Times to say that “our health services, health-research collaborations and public-health protection are more robust within the EU”, and that “Brexit should carry a health warning.” They argue that being in Europe is vital for scientific research, that the economic damage caused by leaving would reduce available funding for the NHS, and that the free movement of people has allowed EU workers to fill skills shortages in the NHS: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/comment/the-benefits-to-the-nhs-of-staying-in-the-eu-dnjnp8b82
It comes as Britain Stronger In Europe released a hard-hitting video demonstrating the real views on the NHS of prominent members of the EU. Boris Johnson, Matthew Elliott and Douglas Carswell have all called in the past for the NHS budget to be cut, for charges to be imposed on GP and hospital visits, and for further NHS privatisations: https://www.facebook.com/StrongerInCampaign/videos/1138493979524258/
James McGrory, Chief Campaign Spokesman of Britain Stronger In Europe, said:
“I congratulate Vote Leave for their honesty in admitting that they would leave British holidaymakers out of pocket by forcing them to cover the cost of treatment in EU countries. Falling ill away from home is worrying enough, and the European Health Insurance Card allows British families to access the best available care without having to worry about the costs.
“Vote Leave clearly think that this policy is a price worth paying. But to leave Brits to face a massive bill on their sickbed miles away from home would be damaging and inhumane. The millions of British people who holiday in, or go on business to Europe every year are safer and better off thanks to our membership of the EU, while leaving would put travellers at risk.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
- According to Vote Leave’s figures, provided by the Department of Health, British holidaymakers would have been £6.18bn worse off over the last eight years.
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