Grassroots pro-European campaigners from St Albans for Europe took part in European Movement’s national Action Day in Harpenden on Saturday (27 January) on the need to stay in the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) to protect our NHS. St Albans for Europe also held a street stall on St Albans market on the same issue on 13 January. Several local European Movement groups from across the country joined forces with pro-European campaigners from Open Britain and Best for Britain for this major Action Day.
The Nuclear Safeguards Bill is currently being debated in Parliament, which is why St Albans for Europe wanted to make the case for keeping our EURATOM membership, which is vital for the NHS as it ensures cancer patients can receive radiotherapy treatments without supply-related disruptions.
St Albans for Europe took to the streets with a petition on why it is critical we stay in EURATOM; we highlighted the link between EURATOM and our NHS; and recruited new members for our rapidly expanding Movement.
The Action Day also took place against the backdrop of an NHS in crisis, which has already been hit hard by Brexit. The number of EU nurse applicants has dropped by 96% since the vote to leave the EU; increasing numbers of EU-trained ambulance staff are quitting the NHS, already one of the most understaffed areas of NHS care, just as concern over slow response time grows; more than 33,000 nurses left the NHS last year; and 68 NHS chiefs have warned of long delays and risks to patients.
Fiona McAndrew, St Albans for Europe Chair said:
“The NHS is very close to people’s hearts and we want to ensure local people understand the damage leaving the EU will do to the NHS. Only last week, Lord Kerr, the author of Article 50, who was speaking at an event we organised in St Albans, highlighted this very issue. We had a very good response from people on the street in St Albans and Harpenden – this is the first time we have campaigned in Harpenden and we will definitely be doing more.”
James MacCleary, campaigns director, European Movement UK, said: “Our supporters believe it is in the best interests of the UK to remain within the EU and EURATOM, which is vital for our NHS.
“We should be doing everything we can to support our NHS, which so many people depend upon, but Brexit is helping to bring it to its knees. All this, when the Leave campaign infamously promised an extra £350 million a week for the NHS.
“EURATOM wasn't discussed during the referendum campaign, no one voted to leave it and certainly no one voted for delays to cancer treatment, due to problems with the supply of medical isotopes.”
Dr Rob Davidson, CEO, Healthier IN the EU, said: “We could stay in the EURATOM treaty but the government is unprepared and flying blind. This is why the people need to hold our MPs to account and why the people need to take control of Brexit. The government is making a mess of Brexit, and our NHS and patients will be the ones who suffer.”
If you would like to sign the Euratom petition, please click here.