Hard Brexit seen as a strain on UK's tight health budget

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London - The UK’s health budget could be severely squeezed by a sharp break in ties with the European Union and higher recruitment costs if it can no longer attract workers from the continent, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Britain’s annual health spending would be lower by about £7.5bn by 2021 under a “hard Brexit” than a soft one, the group’s report on Tuesday showed. That’s a scenario in which negotiations break down and the UK must depend on World Trade Organisation rules starting in 2019, likely leading to a dent in consumer confidence and the value of the pound, the report found.

The UK may need to spend £600m more on imported medicines as the pound would probably fall more sharply, adding to the pressure on the budget, according to the Economist unit. The nation’s health spending was about £177bn last year, or 9.2% of GDP, compared with 11.4% in Germany and 11.6% in France, the group estimated.

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