How will immigration, the Brexit and health care accessibility issues impact the future of health and social care in the UK?
The Brexit will undoubtedly have long-term impacts on every facet of society in the UK and EU, and health and social care may be among the most strongly affected by this political and social restructuring. One challenge that will affect the UK in the midst of this change is immigration, and particularly that done for health care purposes. The UK already boasts amongst the highest populations of immigration in the world, and the nation may find itself receiving even more newcomers as a result of its health and social care policy. Obtaining a balance between meeting the needs of immigrants with valid European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) while traveling or residing in the UK and honouring and recognizing national health care concerns will be difficult in the coming years, and the government must strive to define residential versus immigrant status and to most appropriately provide care to those in need. Debates exist related to the equity of the immigration health surcharge and evaluation of this policy in response to the Brexit will be needed. Public health professionals in the UK will serve at the forefront of these efforts, and data related to immigrant health care access, usage and care outcomes will be critical in adopting and implementing policy to manage this concern. There is currently a lack of sufficient data regarding the use of health care services by both European and non-European immigrants since the Brexit, and research is needed in order to identify the magnitude of this challenge and ensure the most effective balance is struck between immigrant and national health care needs.
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