“Let’s give our NHS the £350m the EU takes every week”
– Vote Leave
Retired British expats in Spain and Portugal are living on smaller pensions, thanks to the slump in sterling, and an uncertain future, at least as far as their access to healthcare is concerned.
Still, health secretary Jeremy Hunt will be hoping Brits abroad still feel the warm breeze off the Med is worth it.
The Nuffield Trust found that the NHS could face a bill of almost half a billion pounds if retired British people currently living in other EU countries decide to return to the UK. Nearly 200,000 British pensioners currently receive healthcare under an EU reciprocal scheme.
If these pensioners all turned up in British hospitals, it is likely to cost £979m a year – or £500m once British spending on EU citizens is removed. As well as Costa Del Sol returnees, other Brexit-related costs include £100m if the NHS cannot access medicine at the same cost as before.
Hunt – still most likely to be the health secretary come Brexit negotiations to the grief of junior doctors – recently said a bad Brexit deal would be a disaster for the NHS. But telling pensioners with chronic heart disease that there is no money to accommodate them in their native health service would be even more of a disaster for Jeremy Hunt.