Theresa May is expected to write to EU leaders today to trigger article 50 of the Lisbon treaty – and begin the process of removing the UK from the European Union.

Since the referendum result last June, HSJ has reported on what Brexit could mean for the NHS. Here we round-up our must read articles on the what leaving the EU means for the health service.


One of the NHS’s biggest questions since 24 June has been what will happen to the NHS’s many staff from EU countries after Brexit. Senior correspondent Shaun Lintern’s expert briefing unpacks the potential consequences for the NHS if the government fails to get a good exit deal.

The government has already introduced tougher immigration rules, making it harder for the NHS to recruit foreign staff. Nursing has been added to the shortage occupation list because of concerns trusts will not be able to source enough staff under normal visa rules. The Royal College of Nursing and the British Medical Association have also warned the immigration skills charge of up to £1,000 a year for a visa, which comes into effect in April, could drain millions of pounds from the NHS.


National health leaders have indicated the areas they believe could be ripe for reform once the NHS does not have to abide by EU regulations.

Mr Hunt has told HSJ there will be an opportunity to reform professional regulators, while Simon Stevens has said Britain will be in a position to “shape our own decisions” about procurement and competition rules.

The negotiations

In January, Jeremy Hunt said he would not be in the room for the main Brexit negotiations, but his “level of involvement on health issues [in the discussions] will be extremely high”.

The health secretary also said two-thirds of Department of Health officials will be involved in Brexit policy “at some level”, and the DH has a full-time Brexit director.

The DH is recruiting 340 staff this year (after more than 500 were made redundant), partly to help it cope with the impact of Brexit.