It’s been seven weeks since the British public were visiting polling stations to make the biggest vote of their lifetime. Seven weeks since naïve Brexit supporters believed that £350 million a week would be spent on the NHS if their vote won.
I’m from a small market town in Lincolnshire, where 59.9% of the population voted to leave the EU in order to ‘take back control of our country’ and yesterday (Wednesday) it was announced that, as of next week, our A&E department will no longer be open 24 hours a day. Instead, the residents of Grantham, as well as surrounding towns and villages, will now have to travel approximately 30 miles to Boston, Nottingham or Lincoln if they are in need of medical care at night.
The reasoning behind this is due to the hospital being understaffed, yet the United Kingdom has just voted to potentially stop EU workers – who make up 5% of our NHS and 10% of our doctors – to enter our country without needing a visa. It really seems worth it now.
During the referendum, I was inundated with messages from Vote Leave supporters saying that they were sick of going to the doctor and struggling to say their European doctor’s name, but, personally, I’m struggling to see the benefit of fewer foreign doctors and shorter hospital opening hours. 29,000 people visit Grantham Hospital’s A&E department every year, equating to 80 people a day. How can risking these people’s lives be in anyway acceptable?
Although I’m aware that this isn’t a direct consequence of Brexit and that Article 50 is yet to be triggered, this is surely suggesting that we – and that NHS – now need the EU more than ever. As much as I disagree with and am incredibly upset by the closure of Grantham’s 24 hour A&E service, I hope that this may well be a wakeup call to politicians and negotiators, so that we can keep free movement of labour.
We are not British, we are human – and it does not matter which other human provides us with care and treatment in our times of need.
* Anna Pitcher has recently finished her studies in German and Economics at the University of Sheffield. She is a member of the Liberal Democrats.