WELSH First Minister Carwyn Jones and Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood have joined forces to argue that the long term future of the NHS can only be secured with a remain vote in the EU referendum on Thursday. They warned that leaving the European Union would make it more difficult to recruit doctors and other healthcare professionals to the NHS.
During First Minister’s questions in the Senedd, the Plaid Cymru leader and First Minister agreed that the NHS will need to recruit increasing numbers of trained healthcare professionals and that voting to leave the EU would make it even more difficult to recruit them from overseas.
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said:
“Wales already faces a doctor shortage, and voting to leave the EU would perpetuate this problem. If we were to leave the EU on Thursday the NHS in Wales would find it even more difficult to recruit doctors from overseas.
“The economic uncertainty caused by withdrawing from the EU would also make it difficult to attract GPs to areas where vacancies are difficult to fill. We cannot overlook the threat of privatisation if we were to leave the NHS in the hands of right-wing politicians. Their keenness to sign up to TTIP would make it easier for more of our public services to be sold off.
“The only way to secure the future of our NHS is to vote to remain in the EU. It is in Wales’ best interests to remain in the EU. When it comes to protecting people, the economy and protecting the health service, Wales is better off in the European Union.”
In response to the question from the Plaid Cymru leader, the First Minister Carwyn Jones said:
“What message would we convey to doctors and other health staff should we leave the European Union? Without question we would find it harder to recruit skilled staff from abroad. It is clear that our NHS benefits hugely from our membership of the EU, and it is one of the things people need to think about before they vote on Thursday.”
Addressing a question on the threat of privatisation in the event of a Leave vote, the First Minister said:“We of course oppose any privatisation of the NHS, and there is no doubt that a Leave vote would damage the fabric of our health service. Look at the personalities at the top of the Leave campaign – those are people who do not speak for the NHS, who talk openly about a privatisation agenda. Devolution would not protect us fully from the effects of wholesale privatisation in Wales, as it would slash the funding available to us.”