In this briefing we explore what the UK leaving the EU might mean for funding of the NHS in England. We then outline the current state of finances for NHS providers in 2015/16, what this implies for the total Department of Health budget, and the scale of the financial challenge facing the health service for the near future.

Download NHS finances outside the EU.

Our analysis builds on the work of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) and the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), and finds that there are significant risks to NHS funding.

The NHS in England is already facing its worst ever financial challenge, following an unprecedented squeeze on funding for health and social care. At the end of the last financial year, health care providers reported a £2.5bn deficit, as 65% struggled to balance their books.

Factors including an ageing population and an increase in prevalence of chronic conditions mean that funding pressures are set to rise by around 4% a year over the next decade. The Health Foundation projects that the NHS will face a funding shortfall of at least £16bn by 2030/31, even before considering the impact of leaving the EU.

Leading economists are almost unanimous in concluding that leaving the EU will have a negative effect on the UK economy, which in turn will impact on public spending. This report concludes that it is difficult to see how the NHS can escape the consequences.

The NHS budget could be £2.8bn lower than currently planned in 2019/20, if the government aims to balance the books overall. In the longer term, the NHS funding shortfall could be at least £19bn by 2030/31– equivalent to £365m a week – assuming the UK is able to join the European Economic Area. If this is not the case, the shortfall will potentially be as high as £28bn – which is £540m a week.

There has been much discussion of additional funding for the NHS as a result of the UK leaving the EU. The Health Foundation’s analysis finds that if economic growth slows as predicted, funding no longer being paid to the EU would be more than cancelled out by the negative economic consequences of leaving. Therefore if the NHS were to receive an extra £100m a week from 2019/20, this would require: increased taxation of around 1p on the rate of income tax; adding £5.2bn to the expected public finance deficit; or making further cuts to other areas of public spending.


Terence Hoey

I have read your statement with dismay and I feel that Ultra Rare /Rare Diseases will again be put on the long finger I also dread to know what will happen to the European Rare Disease Plan that was agreed by our MP's, MLA's,rare diseases and ultra rare diseases affect very young children will they just be left with out vital treatment and Drugs. We also must not forget the young children who have conditions with out a name what will happen to them also.

Teifi James

This does not bode well for NHS eye care - particularly for patients with uveitis. Despite both the FDA and the EU having approved the use of Adalimumab for the treatment of sight threatening uveitis - the non-clinical commissioning experts at NHS England will not yet permit uveitis experts in England, the freedom to use this treatment. I now realise that 'World Class Commissioning' is either a spectacular oxymoron or a satirical soundbite. Sadly the outlook is increasingly bleak for my patients


Diabetes is a growing world problem with the cost of treating complications almost double the cost of treatment including insulin. Why cant the NHS see that by investing in better treatment options such as Afrezza insulin which has been FDA approved and manages the blood glucose of diabetes in the usa much better than any injectable insulin. It can save us a fortune and minimise hospital admissions due to microvascular complications, blindness, kidney failure, amputations (currently 100 per week) and acute hypoglycaemia, coma and potential brain damage and/or death.


In or out of the EU the financial demands of the NHS aren't sustainable. We need to look at efficiencies and service redesign to make sure that the lionshare of funding is heading straight to healthcare instead of propping up antiquated ways of working.

As new staff join the NHS they need to be aware they are joining an organisation where healthy business models are as important as healthy living to stop the increasing pressure on a service that can and must reinvent itself


Hi. I am confused! Surely Boris Johnson will make certain that money presently being paid to the EU will be used to add funding to the NHS. It said so on the side of his bus


Like Roger I am confused, there are fewer hospitals, fewer doctors, fewer nurses, departments being closed everywhere, beds being closed everywhere, just before the 2015 election Jeremy Hunt sold off 780 million pounds worth of NHS resources, some were highly profitable. Richard Branson has just bought social care services for the South East for the knockdown price of around 500 million. Theresa May says the NHS is receiving record levels of funding. Now I am no economist, but, either someone is lying to us or we have the most inept bunch of people ever to run a business in charge of it.
The most probable answer is it is being dismantled because of an ideology so that its poor performance can be used to justify selling it off at knockdown prices to friends and donors.

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