by Alexandra Kupryjanczuk and Zdravko Zahariev
The annual retreat for the Department of Health Policy to Cumberland Lodge took place at the end of January. Students and professors got together to enjoy lectures, seminars, peer-led discussions and delicious food and teas in the picturesque British country-side. Located in Windsor Great Park, Cumberland Lodge had a lot to offer, and we thank the staff for the lovely atmosphere and wonderful stay.
The theme of the weekend was Consequences for the NHS Post-Brexit. Attending professors gave insightful lectures on the potential impacts of Brexit on the health care system, covering topics like health planning, labour force, regulations, as well as narratives and campaign language surrounding the referendum.
Peer-led discussions demonstrated that many students felt Brexit would bring the NHS various drawbacks, and group projects encouraged students to discuss both consequences and potential opportunities the change could bring. Students identified potential challenges such as shortages or stockpiles of medicines and supplies, barriers to importation of drugs, loss of access to clinical trials, decrease in medical research funding, work-force shortages, and many others.
While opinions of Brexit’s impact on the NHS were predominantly negative, the group project encouraged students to come up with opportunities Brexit could bring in as well. In a collaborative effort, the students were able to identify potential areas in which the UK could capitalise. Examples include the potential of reduced regulation to decrease bureaucracy, to work with more countries outside the EU (such as the US and Australia), and the opportunity to restructure areas within the health care system to improve efficiency. Though the prospects for these may not look great, we decided to regard them as probably more realistic than our fleeting hope that we would run into the queen somewhere in Windsor.
So while the now infamous leave-campaign adverts promising $350 million saved weekly for the NHS failed a few basic fact-checks, it did bring a few laughs. Much like that advert, our weekend in Windsor brought up some serious post-Brexit considerations and reality-checks, and of course a few laughs.