BMA: EU Leave campaign ‘beyond irresponsible’ on NHS and immigration
BMA chair Dr Mark Porter condemns ‘farcical and fatuous’ Leave campaign claims
Hospital waiting room, credit D Coetzee
The head of the UK doctors' union has attacked ‘farcical and fatuous’ claims about the NHS and immigration by the Leave campaign.
The British Medical Association, which represents doctors across the UK, has adopted a neutral position over Thursday’s EU referendum, but its chair Dr Mark Porter this morning stepped off the fence to condemn the way the Leave campaign has used the NHS in the campaign.
In a speech to the BMA’s annual representative meeting in Belfast, Porter said no one could remain neutral in the face of “farcical and fatuous claims” about the NHS.
“We’ve warned before about politicians playing games with the health service. Here we see game-playing on a truly continental scale,” he said.
Responding to claims by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove that the NHS would enjoy more funding after a Brexit, Porter said: “It’s beyond irresponsible. It relies on the unknowable assumption that the United Kingdom’s economy will be the same size, and the money would still be available.”
He added: “And further, do we really believe that some of the most ardent, fanatical and dogmatic supporters of austerity are suddenly desperate to increase public spending if only they had the chance? That the only thing holding them back from investing in the people’s health before now, has been saving it up as a mammoth bribe?”
Porter also condemned claims tightening immigration would relieve pressure on hospital waiting rooms.
“In one campaign advert, we see a waiting room in one of our hospitals. It’s calm, half-empty – the suggestion being that’s what the country would be like with fewer immigrants. Well, in that little England, good luck with finding enough doctors, or enough nurses,” he said.
“Anyone who attacks the contribution to this country of people from around the world, attacks us all. They attack many of us personally, but they attack every one of us, because the health service we love would not exist without their contribution.”
Yesterday Vote Leave chair Labour MP Gisela Stuart said the only way to introduce a ‘points based’ system for immigration – which would allow people with necessary skills into the country – would be to vote for Brexit.
“The IN campaign have no answers on how we can control immigration if we stay in the EU. They have no plan for how we will fund the NHS so it can cope with the extra pressures that staying in the EU will create,” she said.
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