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Remaining in EU best option for everyone's health and wellbeing

The Faculty of Public Health (FPH) has today (Tuesday 7 June) published a report into the public health consequences of the UK’s membership of the European Union and the upcoming referendum on June 23.

The report concludes that, on balance, remaining in the EU is the best option for everyone’s health and wellbeing, based on the best available evidence.

Professor John Ashton, President of the Faculty of Public Health, said: “Public health is about analysing the best available evidence to make an informed judgement. Our independent report reflects that we have a lot of evidence about what the UK’s membership of the EU means for public health, but very little about what the impact of leaving would be.

“The EU was established to reduce the risk of future wars in Europe through uniting countries politically and economically. The EU has secured lasting peace and stability – and protected those living in it from the significant threat that war and violence present to our health.

“Health is a key driver of long-term economic growth. The UK’s membership of the EU has ensured continued protection for health, particularly from legislation on the environment and clean air, water, food and consumer product safety, and a flow of qualified workers for the NHS and other employers of health and social care workers.

“Through its strong social protections and worker rights, the EU has made a significant contribution to tackling the inequalities that lead to unequal societies, and which puts more pressure on our already overburdened health and welfare services.

“Just as our economy and society have become international, so have the threats to our health. Pandemics like ‘flu, or water and airborne diseases and pollution, do not respect border controls. Our food and economic security, as well as the impact of climate change, cannot be controlled from within the UK alone.

“The UK has a strong leadership role for public health in Europe, for example on resistance to antibiotics. We all benefit from a pan-European approach to such a vital issue. Our analysis is that is better for the UK to remain a team player within Europe, where we benefit from shared intelligence, response and action.

“We agree that reform is needed within the EU to improve existing legislation. With a seat at the table, FPH believes that the UK has stronger, bloc wide, negotiating power.

“The UK is a net beneficiary from EU funding, including our excellent public health practice and research, which protects and improves health and helps make best use of the NHS’s resources.

“Our analysis suggests that it would almost certainly be detrimental to people’s health in the UK for us to leave the EU. Remaining in the EU would be in the best interests of everyone’s health and wellbeing. ”

Written: 07/06/2016 , last modified: 24/06/2016

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