BREXIT poses “serious challenges” to NHS funding, staffing and patient care rather than the £350 million-a-week boon its advocates claimed, according to a new report.

Leaving the EU next year also means a reduction in reciprocal patient rights abroad and delays in the approval of medicines, the UK in a Changing Europe think tank said.

Its 'Brexit and the NHS' report said existing funding pressures on the health service could intensify as the economy was hit, with knock-on effects on waiting times, recovery rates and care quality.

With around 200,000 EU nationals working in the health and social care sector, particularly in London, south east England and Northern Ireland, fewer staff could lead to skills shortages.

In devolved areas, the report warned several Scottish health projects could see their funding dry up after they lost their current income under the Interreg scheme.

Cross-border health treatments in Ireland, with patients travelling between the North and the Republic for services, could also be affected.

Treatment of sexual health, diabetes and eating disorders is currently integrated across the border, but in future patients could have to travel farther to obtain the same treatment.

Other areas flagged by the report as potential losers include patient data sharing, pharmaceutical monitoring and approvals, clinical trials, health research grants, and rapid alert systems for human tissues and blood.

Think tank director Professor Anand Menon said: “This report shows the UK’s future relationship with the EU will play a critical role in the health and well-being of the country.

"Our aim has been to make clear the potential challenges so they can be anticipated and appropriate action taken.”