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Fears that the UK could lose more than 3,000 existing GPs due to Brexit

One in 20 GPs across the UK gained their primary medical qualification in an EU country, according to figures which have renewed fears about the impact of Brexit on a workforce already at breaking point.

A GMC report showed that 3,122 GPs graduated in an EU country other than the UK, most commonly Ireland, Italy, Germany, Romania, Poland, Spain, Netherlands and France.

The figures – which also include data from non-EU Switzerland, Norway and Iceland – show that in England 2,429 or 5% of GPs first qualified outside the UK.

Northern Ireland has the highest proportion of GPs graduating from a European country at 11%, or 185 GPs.

Both Scotland (226) and Wales (102) have 4% of GPs who got their primary medical degree in a European country.

A further 191 GPs qualified in Europe but were not linked to a specific region, the GMC figures show.

European GPs practising in the UK

Northern Ireland: 185 (11%)

England: 2,429 (5%)

Scotland: 226 (4%)

Wales: 102 (4%)

Total UK: 3,122 (5%)

Source: GMC, as indicated by country where they trained (EEA).

The RCGP said that although some of these GPs may be UK citizens, the figures were a strong indicator of a doctor's origin - and their potential loss due to Brexit is of ‘grave concern’ for patient safety.

It comes as everal surveys have warned that Brexit will have a damaging impact on staffing of GP practices - including a previous GMC audit showing 60% of EU doctors are considering quitting the country, and a BMA poll which showed EU doctors are already feeling significantly less valued by the Government.

And the RCGP, BMA and MPs have all called on politicians to safeguard GPs during the Brexit negotiations - but as yet to no avail.

RCGP Scotland chair Dr Miles Mack said: ‘There is already a projected deficit of 828 whole-time equivalent GPs in Scotland, by 2021.

‘To learn that Scotland could face the loss of an additional 4% of its already stretched GP workforce is extremely worrying.

‘We are calling for the Government to safeguard the GP workforce during international negotiations by guaranteeing the status of healthcare professionals already working in Scotland and the UK.’

He added that a further 146 GPs in Scotland were facing possible removal because they were nationals of other EU member states.

‘Again, we must call for immediate action to prevent that clear harm to the health service.’

RCGP Wales chair Dr Rebecca Payne warned that Brexit may have a significant impact on healthcare services.

‘I urge candidates to protect the GP workforce in Wales during the Brexit negotiations and make it as easy as possible for doctors and other healthcare professionals from the EU to move to Wales and other parts of the UK.’

A report from Pulse publisher Cogora, published in March, found a majority of GPs worry that the number of staff working in practices will reduce after Brexit.

No guaranteeing EU doctors' right to remain in the UK

Health minister David Mowat told the Pulse Live conference in March that the Department of Health is 'unambiguous' that GPs from the EU should be able to stay on after Brexit.

But Prime Minister Theresa May has refused to guarantee the right to remain of any EU citizens until all EU countries do the same with regards to UK citizens - and she has said the UK will leave the EU even if there is 'no deal'

Meanwhile, NHS England is in the process of recruiting 500 GPs from Europe in a bid to hit the Government's target of hiring 5,000 additional GPs by 2020.

This includes the areas of Lincolnshire - NHS England's 'blueprint' for the expanding scheme - and Essex, which are taking in more than 50 recruits between them this year.

This comes despite health secretary Jeremy Hunt's pledge last year that the NHS will start relying more on 'homegrown' doctors.



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Readers' comments (17)

  • Remember too that a large number of NI doctors graduated in Ireland, I am from the UK but went to college in Dublin and I don't think that uk government will throw me out after brexit, so for NI this is just uneccesary scaremongering

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  • Life is not just work. From an EU Doctors perspective, it is also movement across borders (un)hindered by visa regulations for family members,the security of having reciprocal health arrangements between UK and EU especially if they have their elderly parents living with them in UK. It is the knowledge that you won't be spat at just because you are non-EU and will be paid similar wages as your colleague in the same Surgery. These go hand in hand with insecurity of NHS Pensions which may be affected and reduced/decimated for nationals once the retire to their own country.
    It's not all black and white and these are some things EU Doctors have to deal with. On the other hand, UK nationals in EU are likely deliberating on the same terms and facing similar uncertainty wherever they are.

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  • Previously I have described GPs as Specialists in Superficial Medicine with a special interest in Directional Triage; the comments by Monty and JJ would support this. However, the art of proper medicine is such that it should be beyond the capacity of a nurse to do with their current level of training.If Montys work is this sh#t that a nurse could do 80% of it then I suggest that he/she needs to up his/her game.I suspect he/she holds that fine diploma called MRCGP;if so then upping his/her game may be asking for too much...but thats a topic for another day.

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  • Monty is a gardener... works for BBC...take no notice of him!

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  • nurses can do the job of doctors in any specialty just as well as they can do GP which is probably not very well or bits to the book without any degree for leeway. Im sure they do colonoscopies now but they need the training to do all these things the same as doctors and to be doctors they would need a doctors training

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  • AlanAlmond

    I'm sorry but talk of 'cardigans' goes right over my head. I'm guessing this was one of yesterday's 'in jokes' still being referenced by old timers. I'm genuinely impressed they've been able to keep this pan boiling so long..keep it up.

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  • Once again,It is not just brexit. It is all the pressure around with everyone telling us what to do:patients pharmacist social worker receptionist. ..Impossible to keep good frame on mind!!

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