I sit here wondering how a possible Brexit may affect your health. And mine and my loved ones. What will the short and long-term impact of the historical referendum on 23rd June be? I had a blog all prepared and almost ready to go but as I’ve been watching events unfold, I didn’t want to let the event go by without saying something.

Living in the UK, being involved in UK health research initiatives and NHS service reviews, and working with individuals to help them navigate the changes brought on by a challenging health issue, I feel I have a stake in the impact and subsequent outcomes even though I am not a UK citizen (yet) and so cannot vote.

There is also the everyday impact we are all witnessing at the moment: the uncertainty regarding who will lead the political parties, will the next Prime Minister follow through on Brexit or not, the downright unpleasant and unnecessary instances of xenophobia and racism, the tit for tat between the Leave and Remain supporters, the stress to the financial markets and the unknown impact of that on the cost of living, jobs, mortgages, etc. going forward. The list goes on and it’s understandable to feel stress and anxiety. I know I’ve been feeling it.

Read on to find out emerging thoughts and questions on how Brexit may affect your health and the UK’s health sector, and how can we as individuals deal with and manage the impact of the Brexit storm.

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The Brexit Storm. B Babcock 2016

How Brexit may affect your health – Emerging thoughts and questions

I only list a few and they are just the tip of the iceberg. I include links to my sources.

Impact on the medical profession and professionals

Pulse, the journal for GPs, highlighted a few of the issues that the UK’s health sector will be grappling with.

  • The Press Association estimated that 5% of the NHS England workforce is from the EU. What will their residence status be in a few years’ time and how will that impact their ability and desire to remain in the UK?

I work with NHS doctors and they are making a huge contribution to the health of our nation through provision and improvement of care, research, and formulation of health policy to name just a few areas. Many are not originally from the UK, but came here for education, work, and have built their lives here. Including me.

The value these doctors bring is recognised on the British Medical Association’s (BMA) website where a member benefit is immigration advice.

  • The British Medical Association (BMA) fears that their efforts with European GP organisations to have general practice recognised as a speciality could be in jeopardy due to the referendum results. The BMA would like to make it easier for GPs to work across Europe and to increase the profession’s standing. It is thought that this can help the resource issues within general practice. For more information on this read here and here.

Did the referendum campaign normalise lying?

Oh, and that £350 million per week paid to the EU which the Leave campaign promised to redirect to the NHS? That was a mistake according to Nigel Farage as per his interview with ITV’s Good Morning Britain. Despite the fact that he repeatedly said this would be the case during the campaign in the lead up to the referendum.

What will the impact be on health care treatment when travelling in the EU?

What will happen to the European Health Insurance Card? This card gives UK residents the right to access state-provided healthcare which is medically necessary during a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland. We are assured treatment if something should happen whilst travelling in the EU. I and others with long-term conditions find this reassuring.

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European Health Insurance Card. Photo taken by B Babcock 2016

What will Brexit’s impact be on research?

The New Statesman highlighted that the EU provides an environment where ideas can be shared easily and barriers are minimised so exchange and collaboration are more possible, which scientists value. This is important for research, particularly into rare diseases and I am concerned the impact a Brexit could have on that.

Having sat on a steering group for a research clinical trial into Transverse Myelitis, I know that rare conditions make it is much harder to recruit the required number of people to make the trial viable and results valid. For that very reason, the trial I was involved in closed early. We discussed the possibility of future trials needing to be European-wide to ensure viable outcomes. But how much harder will that be if the UK is no longer part of the European Union? And what impact will that have on people living with rare conditions? That remains to be seen.

There are no answers yet as these issues are so fresh. And we can expect a lot more questions.

Living in the storm of Brexit

This is about how we manage our emotional/mental health – the uncertainty, anxiety and even any anger we may be feeling due to current events. I’m sharing what I am using for myself to keep calm in the storm of Brexit.

Focus on what you can control and influence

In relation to any uncertainty, stress and anxiety you may be feeling, have a good think about what you can directly control and influence and focus on that. It will allow you to redirect your energies in a productive manner and reduce the negative impact of stress. The link is to a blog which explains how to do this.

Notice any connection between your views, values and self-worth

If you find yourself really angry about the referendum result or how people are treating your views, ah, this can be a tough one. On the one hand, I tell myself a view is a view. It is not right or wrong. People will hold views different from one another. So Thursday’s result wasn’t about who was right and who was wrong. It was about a view predominating.

I think right and wrong comes into play when your views represent your deeply held values, what you consider important and true in the world for you. When that connection between views and values goes unnoticed AND your self-worth is based on your views, then you can get into a potentially heated right or wrong debate with people and come out of them feeling very angry and ‘less than’ the other person.

When I am conscious of the connection between a view I am passionate about and my values, then I feel I can hold that view separate from my sense of self-worth and validity as a person. And when I do that, I am better able to acknowledge and recognise the differing views of others.

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Acknowledging differences. B Babcock 2016

Compassion and kindness can go a long way

Demonstrate compassion and kindness with yourself and others. Doing good in this way makes yourself and others feel good. It throws good karma out into the world. And right now, we, the world and 2016 can all use some of that.

What’s it like for you?

This is such a big issue with so many unknowns. If you have thoughts on how Brexit may affect your health the UK’s health sector, share them here. I would also love to know what strategies are you using to maintain perspective in the storm of Brexit?

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2016

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