Menu

Representatives of millions of public sector workers warn that public sector jobs and services are at risk if we leave the EU

  • Unions and medical colleges representing 6 million workers join with politicians to make an unprecedented warning over leaving Europe.
  • Labour say there could be more than half a million job losses across the public sector if we leave the EU.
  • 60 former heads of the BMA and the medical royal colleges say Brexit is a “threat” to the future of the NHS.
  • TUC analysis shows leaving the EU could mean the NHS budget would be cut by a quarter.

Today [Tuesday], people representing millions of public sector workers warn that leaving the EU would cut jobs in the public sector, hammer the NHS budget, and damage the services on which millions of Britons rely. 

Labour politicians, Union leaders representing 6 million workers, health experts and the TUC have united to warn of the threat to the UK public sector if Britain leaves the EU. This is an unprecedented warning from those who represent the NHS workers, teachers and council workers who keep our public services going and who working people rely on.
 
28 senior Labour and Union figures, including many former education and health secretaries, as well as Shadow Health Secretary Heidi Alexander and former TUC General-Secretary John Monks, present new research showing that a vote to leave could lead to over half a million job losses in the public sector.
 
Meanwhile, 60 past heads of the Medical Royal Colleges and the British Medical Association say a Leave vote would be a threat to the NHS. Trade union general secretaries representing 6 million people say in an open letter today that quitting Europe will mean “the NHS will suffer”, meaning “less money to fund nurses, midwives and hospitals”. And TUC analysis finds that leaving the EU could cost the NHS a full 25 per cent of its budget by 2020.
 
Leaving the EU could cost 525,000 jobs
 
28 senior figures from Labour and the trades unions point to new analysis which finds that leaving the EU could see 525,000 jobs lost in the public sector. Senior figures including Ed Balls, Charles Clarke, Alan Johnson, Jacqui Smith and John Monks say that if a vote to Leave results in a recession, as economic experts including the Bank of England have predicted it would, then the likelihood is that the government will further cut back on public spending, meaning more job losses.
 
Presenting the analysis in a joint statement, they said:
 
“Independent economic experts agree that leaving Europe could hit our economy. This includes the Governor of the Bank of England who warned we could go into recession.
 
“Britain’s vital public services like the NHS rely on a strong economy and continued investment.

 
“But if we leave the shock to our economy could see a £40bn black hole in our public finances, that would hobble our public services and affect workers on the front line.
 
“Leaving Europe is a leap into the dark and is a risk for Britain’s public services that we cannot afford to take.”

 
Health experts say leaving the EU is “threat” to the NHS
 
It comes as 60 former presidents and chairs of the Medical Royal Colleges and the British Medical Association (BMA) write an open letter warning of the threat to the NHS an economic downturn following a Leave vote would cause. 
 
The 60 health experts say that if Britain leaves the EU:
 
“There would be an immediate large decline in national income, which can only worsen the existing financial crisis that faces the NHS.

 
“It is Brexit that is the threat to the NHS, not our membership of the EU.”
 
Union leaders write to warn of the consequences of leaving the EU
 
In an open letter, 12 trade union leaders representing 6 million people, including TUC General-Secretary Frances O’Grady and UNITE General-Secretary Len McCluskey, say:
 
“Right now, we're worried. Worried that the UK will vote to leave the European Union - and that will be a disaster for working people.

 
“With the UK worse off, the NHS will suffer too. There will be less money to fund nurses, midwives and hospitals.
 
“Vote for jobs. Vote for protections at work. And vote for a better future for your family. Vote Remain on 23 June.”
 
TUC shows Leave vote would devastate NHS budget
 
In a speech today in London, TUC General-Secretary Frances O’Grady will unveil new TUC analysis showing that a vote to Leave the EU could cost the NHS 25% of its budget by 2019/20. This is based on figures from respected think-tanks the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and the King’s Fund.

 
Leaving the EU could mean over half a million public sector employees losing their jobs

  • Economic experts are claiming that leaving the EU would result in recession and leave a black hole in public finances.
  • During the last recession, and the following austerity, the public sector workforce fell by almost 1 million people.
  • With economic experts predicting a £40bn black hole in public finances, a proportionate reduction in public sector employees would mean a fall in the number of public sector employees of 525,000.
  • From 2009-2015, the public sector workforce fell by 969,000 following the global economic recession and following austerity.[1]
  • During this time, the current budget deficit was reduced from £103.2bn (2009/10) to £40.5bn (2015/16).[2]
  • The IFS has predicted that public sector receipts could fall by up to £40bn.[3]
  • Assuming the decline in public sector employees would apply proportionately (i.e. only 64% of the percentage fall) would be needed in the event of leaving the EU, would mean the number of public sector employees would fall by 525,000.
  • The table below provides the regional breakdown:

 

Region

2009

2015

09-15    % fall

Projected fall

North East

297,000

232,000

-22%

-32,000

North West

729,000

601,000

-18%

-68,000

Yorkshire and The Humber

566,000

464,000

-18%

-54,000

East Midlands

395,000

335,000

-15%

-33,000

West Midlands

533,000

449,000

-16%

-45,000

East of England

477,000

413,000

-13%

-35,000

London

798,000

723,000

-9%

-43,000

South East

722,000

633,000

-12%

-50,000

South West

548,000

439,000

-20%

-56,000

Wales

356,000

295,000

-17%

-32,000

Scotland

639,000

545,000

-15%

-51,000

Northern Ireland

230,000

211,000

-8%

-11,000

United Kingdom

6,329,000

5,360,000

-15%

-525,000

 
The research is presented by:
 
Heidi Alexander, Shadow Health Secretary
Ed Balls, former Education Secretary
Brendan Barber, former General Secretary of the TUC
Luciana Berger, Shadow Health Minister
Andy Burnham, former Health Secretary
Kay Carberry, former Assistant General Secretary of the TUC
Charles Clarke, former Education Secretary and Home Secretary
Vernon Coaker, former Education Minister
Ray Collins, former General Secretary of the Labour Party
Yvette Cooper, former Work and Pensions Secretary
Charlie Falconer, Shadow Justice Secretary
Caroline Flint, former Public Health Minister
Vicky Foxcroft, Labour MP and former Unite activist
Lillian Greenwood, Shadow Transport Secretary
Harriet Harman, former Acting Labour Leader
Peter Hain, former Work and Pensions Secretary
John Healey, former Shadow Health Secretary
Patricia Hewitt, former Health Secretary
John Hutton, former Work and Pensions
Geoff Hoon, former Defence Secretary
Alan Johnson, former Education Secretary, Health Secretary, and Home Secretary
Alan Milburn, former Health Secretary
John Monks, former General Secretary of the TUC
Lucy Powell, Shadow Education Secretary
Margaret Prosser, former President of the Trades Union Congress
George Robertson, former Defence Secretary
Jack Straw, former Home Secretary
Jacqui Smith, former Home Secretary
 
Full text of the medical letter
 
“Sir,

 
“We write as former presidents and chairs of the UK’s medical royal colleges and in the British Medical Association to set out why, if we care about the future of the NHS, we should remain in the EU.
 
“Rather than ruining the NHS, as some have claimed, immigrants play a large part in running it. Without the 10 per cent of doctors and 5 per cent of nurses who  come from other EU countries, not to mention even larger numbers of care workers, the NHS would face severe staff shortages.
 
“Moreover, far from being strangled by bureaucratic regulations, we have benefited from Europe-wide action on matters such as new infectious diseases (including the zika virus), environmental pollution, climate change, and antibiotic resistance — all of which are public health threats that do not stop at the Channel.
 
“We benefit from rapid access to new medicines because of the European Medicines Agency, based in this country. In addition, about 20 per cent of our medical research is now funded by the EU;  we receive considerably more back from the EU for this than we pay in. If we leave we can expect to lose a good proportion of this to other EU countries.
 
“Finally, rather than the discredited £350 million a week that Leave campaigners say would be redirected to the NHS, it seems far more likely that there would be an immediate large decline in national income, which can only worsen the existing financial crisis that faces the NHS.
 
“It is Brexit that is the threat to the NHS, not our membership of the EU.”

 
 
Full text of signatories to the medical letter
 
Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, Past President, Royal College of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, and Past President, British Medical Association;
 
Sir Neil Douglas, Past President, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and Former Chair, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges;
 
Baroness Hollins, Past President, Royal College of Psychiatrists, and Past President, British Medical Association;
 
Sir Michael Marmot, Past President, British Medical Association;
 
Professor Mike Pringle, Past Chair & Past President, Royal College of General Practitioners;
 
Professor Parveen Kumar, Past President, British Medical Association;
 
Sir George Alberti, Past President, Royal College of Physicians;
 
Mr Nicholas Astbury, Past President, Royal College of Opthalmologists;
 
Professor John Ashton, Past President, Faculty of Public Health;
 
Dame Sue Bailey, Past President, Royal College of Psychiatrists;
 
Prof Dinesh Bhugra, Past President, Royal College of Psychiatrists;
 
Dr Laurence Buckman, Former Chair, GPC, British Medical Association;
 
Dame Fiona Caldicott, Past President, Royal College of Psychiatrists;
 
Sir Kenneth Calman, Past President, British Medical Association, and Former Chief Medical Officer, England;
 
Sir David Carter, Past President, British Medical Association, and Former Chief Medical Officer, Scotland;
 
Professor John Cash, Past President, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh;
 
Dr Hilary Cass, Past President, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health;
 
Dr John Chisholm, Former Chair GPC, British Medical Association;
 
Professor John Cox, Past President, Royal College of Psychiatrists;
 
Dr Mike Clancy, Past President, Royal College of Emergency Medicine;
 
Sir Alan Craft, Past President, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health;
 
Dr June Crown, Past President, Faculty of Public Health;
 
Professor Lindsey Davies, Past President, Faculty of Public Health;
 
Dr Neil Dewhurst, Past President, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh;
 
William Dunlop, Past President, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists;
 
Sir Sam Everington, Former Chair, British Medical Association;
 
Professor Tony Falconer, Past President, Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology;
 
Professor Steve Field, Former Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners;
 
Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, Past President, British Medical Association;
 
Professor Clare Gerada, Former, Chair Royal College of General Practitioners;
 
Sir Ian Gilmore, Past President, Royal College of Physicians;
 
Professor Sian Griffith, Past President, Faculty of Public Health;
 
Professor Rod Griffiths, Past President, Faculty of Public Health;
 
Dr Iona Heath, Past President, Royal College of General Practitioners;
 
Dr John Heyworth, Past President, Royal College of Emergency Medicine;
 
Professor Walter Holland, Past President, Faculty of Public Health;
 
Dame Janet Husband, Past President, Royal College of Radiologists;
 
Professor Peter Hutton, Past President, Royal College of Anaesthetists, and Former Chair, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges;
 
Sir Barry Jackson, Past President, Royal College of Surgeons;
 
Sir Peter Lachmann, Past President, Royal College of Pathologists;
 
Professor Mayur Lakhani, Former Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners;
 
Professor Averil Mansfield, Past President, British Medical Association;
 
Prof Alan Maryon Davies, Past President, Faculty of Public Health;
 
Dr Hamish Meldrum, Past Chair, British Medical Association;
 
Sir Peter Morris, Past President, Royal College of Surgeons;
 
Dr Roger Neighbour, Past President, Royal College of General Practitioners;
 
Professor Adrian Newland, Past President, Royal College of Pathologists;
 
Lord Naren Patel, Past President, Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology;
 
Lord Ribeiro, Past President, Royal College of Surgeons;
 
Ian Ritchie, Past President, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh;
 
Professor Robert Shaw, Past President, Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology;
 
Dr Mike Shooter, Past President, Royal College of Psychiatrists;
 
Professor Andrew Sims, Past President, Royal College of Psychiatrists;
 
Prof Alwyn Smith, Past President, Faculty of Public Health;
 
Sir Richard Thompson, Past President, Royal College of Physicians;
 
Lord Turnberg, Past President, Royal College of Physicians;
 
Dame Margaret Turner Warwick, Past President, Royal College of Physicians;
 
Sir James Underwood, Past President, Royal College of Pathologists;
 
Professor JP Van Besouw, Past President, Royal College of Anaesthetics;
 
Sir Norman Williams, Past President, Royal College of Surgeons
 

Signatories to Union leaders’ letter
 
Frances O'Grady, General Secretary, Trades Union Congress
 
Len McCluskey, General Secretary, UNITE
 
Dave Prentis, General Secretary, UNISON
 
Tim Roache, General Secretary, GMB
 
John Hannett, General Secretary, Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers
 
Cathy Warwick, Chief Executive, Royal College of Midwives
 
Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary, Community
 
Dave Ward, General Secretary, Communication Workers Union
 
Brian Rye, General Secretary, Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians
 
Manuel Cortes, Transport Salaried Staffs Association
 
Gerry Morrissey, General Secretary, Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union
 
John Smith, General Secretary, Musician's Union