Leader comment: Brexit’s true impact on our National Health Service

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DURING 2016’s referendum on EU membership, those arguing most passionately in favour of a Leave vote were adamant that one of the main beneficiaries would be the National Health Service.

Without the need to pay for membership of the European club, went the argument, the UK could invest £350million-a-week in the NHS. Campaigners making this entirely dubious claim went so far as to emblazon it on the side of a bus, a cynical but effective move that helped perpetuate what The Scotsman regards as the myth that membership of the EU represented a drag on the UK economy.

The truth is that Brexit is set to have major impact on the health service but not in the positive way Leavers insisted.

It will not have escaped the attention of anyone who has used the NHS in recent years that it depends for the maintenance of acceptable standards upon the services of a great many staff who are not UK citizens.

Uncertainty over the status of these staff post Brexit should be a matter of the gravest concern for us all.

Gung-ho hardline Brexiteers may argue that the UK should walk away from the EU without any kind of deal. We believe this to be a dangerously reckless approach.

A new report makes clear that a no-deal Brexit would impact on staffing not to just in hospitals but beyond.

The social care sector - providing nursing and support services to the elderly and disabled in their own homes - currently employs 10,000 EU nationals in Scotland.

These staff are now living under a dark cloud of uncertainty while Eurosceptics across the political spectrum flex their muscles and demand that the “will of the people” be satisfied, no matter what.

We do not believe it was the will of those people who voted Leave to bring the health and social care sectors to their knees.

Prime Minister Theresa May has, in recent days, begun to show a little more steel in her dealings with the Eurosceptics in her party.

While she is in this frame of mind, we hope she will take the necessary step of making clear that, whatever form Brexit takes, health and care workers who have devoted themselves to building careers here will be welcome to remain and that she will not prevent employers from bringing in more workers if necessary.