EU referendum: Brexit campaigners have made "farcical" claims that NHS would be better off if UK votes to leave, says BMA head Dr Mark Porter

James Nickerson
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EU Referendum - Signage And Symbols
Porter said some of the claims by the pro-Brexit camp were "beyond irresponsible" (Source: Getty)

Pro-Brexit campaigners are guilty of "farcical and fatuous" claims on the hypothetical benefits that would arise from a vote to leave the EU, the head of the British Medical Association (BMA) has said.

While the BMA has remained neutral in the debate, Dr Mark Porter this morning hit out at the way Vote Leave have campaigned on the NHS.

"We’ve warned before about politicians playing games with the health service. Here we see game-playing on a truly continental scale," he told the BMA's annual representative meeting.

Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, among others, have said that Brexit could create billions of the NHS as it could get a "£100m a week cash transfusion" if Britain left the EU.

Read more: Brexit could cause significant staffing issues for NHS while pharmaceutical sector would suffer

But Porter said statements such as these are "based on fantasy figures", created as a guise to deceive the public into backing Brexit.

"Where none of us can be neutral, however, is in condemning the farcical and fatuous claims that have been a by-product of the political campaigns," he said, adding that promises of extra NHS funding is "beyond irresponsible".

"It relies on the unknowable assumption that the United Kingdom’s economy will be the same size, and the money would still be available. It is a promise that has been proven to be based on fantasy figures, but it is maintained as a slogan designed to deceive," Porter added.

"The NHS deserves better than that. It’s not a logo to misuse on a leaflet or a bus."

Porter also retorted to comments made about how tightening immigration could relieve pressure on an already under strain NHS.

Read more: The IFS has attacked Michael Gove over claims that Brexit could generate billions for the NHS

"In one campaign advert, we see a waiting room in one of our hospitals. It’s calm, half-empty – the suggestion being that’s what the country would be like with fewer immigrants. Well, in that little England, good luck with finding enough doctors, or enough nurses," Porter said.

"Anyone who attacks the contribution to this country of people from around the world, attacks us all. They attack many of us personally, but they attack every one of us, because the health service we love would not exist without their contribution."

However, a Vote Leave spokesperson said in response: "If we Vote Leave, we can give the NHS an additional £100m per week cash transfusion by 2020.

"We can also take back control of our borders, prioritising the skilled migrants our NHS needs while reducing the pressures on public services caused by uncontrolled migration. The only way to get that Australian-style points system is to Vote Leave on Thursday."

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