How might Brexit affect the NHS?

Nothing in EU law requires our government to organise the National Health Service in any particular way. Leaving the EU would not make a difference to the government’s policies on ‘NHS privatisation’, the way it is organised (eg ‘any qualified provider’ rules in England), or the proportion of GDP our government chooses to spend on the NHS.

Where aspects of the NHS are organised on a ‘market’ basis, EU trade and competition law apply, just as to other sectors of the market. But even then, EU law’s application is modified, recognising the special place of health in European societies.

In this way, EU law protects the special features of national health systems. All European health systems are based on equality of access according to medical need, and cross-subsidisation of poorer and less healthy people, by wealthier, healthier people, through taxation or social insurance. How to do that is a national choice.

Click here to read our analysis on the NHS and Brexit.

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