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Independents' Day

GMC warns that 60% of EU doctors are considering quitting the country

The GMC chief executive has warned MPs that more than half of NHS doctors from the EU may leave the UK, in a 'worrying' development for the workforce-hit NHS.

Giving evidence to the House of Commons Health Committee today, Charlie Massey said a GMC survey of over 2,000 doctors - around 10% of all doctors from the European Economic Area in the UK - found that staggering numbers were thinking about quitting the NHS.

The figures are even greater than those released by the BMA last week, which found that four-in-10 were thinking of leaving the UK in light of Brexit - on a smaller sample size of 1,000 doctors.

The survey, which only closed only last week, found that some 90% of respondents quoted Brexit as the reason why they were considering leaving.

Results in full

  • 1,280 of 2,106 doctors (60%) said they were considering leaving the UK at some point.
  • Of these, 91% (1,171) said Brexit was a factor in this consideration.
  • 45% of those considering leaving (586 respondents) said they were considering leaving in the next two years, while 24.2% (312) said they were considering leaving in three to five years. 24.9% (320) said they hadn’t considered when they might leave.

Source: GMC survey of 2,115 doctors who identified themselves as EEA nationals holding registration with a licence to practise who are currently practising in the UK (either wholly or partly)

Although Mr Massey warned that the survey was self-selecting and therefore was 'not necessarily going to be predictive of future behaviour’, he said it sent a 'worrying signal'.

Mr Massey added: 'We have also done our own bit of work which only closed at the end of last week, which tends to reinforce some of what the BMA survey said... Actually a slightly higher proportion said they were considering leaving the UK, about 60%... and of those about 90% said that was because of Brexit, so of the 2,000 just over half said they were considering leaving because of Brexit.

'Now, that needs to be treated with a degree of caution. This is a self-selecting group of people who have responded to that survey, what people say is not necessarily going to be predictive of future behaviour. But it does send I think a worrying signal in terms of the stock of doctors currently working in the UK.

'If you look at what people said in their free text comments in our survey basically there were two reasons that came out as being the drivers of that. Firstly, a question of whether or not doctors felt valued and wanted in the NHS and secondly a question of the uncertainty over their continuing and future residence status.'

The news comes as NHS England is defying Brexit and pushing ahead with trying to recruit hundreds of new GPs from the EU with a guaranteed £90,000 salary.

The GP Forward View outlined NHS England’s plan to attract 500 GPs of its 5,000 GP target from overseas.

The £20 million scheme to help ease the GP recruitment crisis will see GPs from EU countries working at practices across the UK from October.

Pulse revealed last summer that Lincolnshire LMC had been working with European medical recruiters to attract GPs to work in the county. GPs from Poland, Romania and Spain have been targeted and 13 GPs have been recruited so far.

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

Readers' comments (20)

  • Vinci Ho

    So this is either scaremongering from Remoaners or the reality faced by Bregretters........
    Your guess is as good as mine .......

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  • Vinci Ho

    The issue of protecting the rights of EU citizens , hence some of our colleagues, is far from finalised . House of Lords , ironically will provide the only braking system of Brexit in tomorrow's vote on the matter . You may have read what John Mayor said in public about Brexit.
    This is to be a battle between political reality and moral responsibility. Recommend to read Laura Kuenssberg's analysis :
    Government faces Brexit defeat in Lords - BBC News

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  • Vinci Ho

    As a matter of fairness , it would be interesting to have a reciprocal survey on those British colleagues currently living as working in EU countries(if any)?

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  • I wonder how many British expat Seniors will move back home once the European Health Card stops giving them free health facilities in Spain and elsewhere in Europe. EU Doctors have to make their own individual choices but the idea of living in a well does not seem too attractive to most one would infer from the article i.e. if above conclusions of GMC are 'evidence based 'like everything in our lives that needs to be as per GMP.

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  • Am I missing something?
    What has this got to do with the GMC other than trying to look 'so self important' as 'a major stake holder' in the ' Healthcare Superegulatory Beauratocracy'.

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  • I'm one of the Hematology Consultants from Italy working in NHS. I have to admit that my response to the survey was I'm leaving. The reason for this response is that as long as UK was in the EU I had the assurance to be covered by NHS. Now it's quite scaring to consider to move all my family to UK, cause nothing is clear. I'm really struggling with myself because I loved working with my colleagues, I also appreciated and did my best for my patients but I need to be reassured and none was until now able to explain what's the plan after Brexit.

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  • Azeem Majeed

    As Andrea Patriarca states, Brexit may well exacerbate shortages of key health professionals, one of the issues I discussed in a recent article.

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  • And this was a surprise?

    People (though I have to keep on reminding everyone only 2% difference) voted to segregate ourselves from rest of Europe and those who voted for Brexit didn't think it might cause the Europeans in UK to feel insecure and unwanted??

    Although I'm not from Europe, as we seem to be going a head with this, I too am seriously thinking of doing my own "Brexit" - only I'm quitting Britain.

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  • I know, Sceptic Monkey and Azeem Majeed, that UK is a democratic and tolerant country. I also totally understand that the citizens in a democratic country must be free to choose what they suppose it's better. However what is quite difficult to understand is the total absence of any plan for the future. I also wrote to GMC chairman and he was really frustrated by the situation. My EU colleagues and me had all the support from the UK staff and from all the patients (whatever they voted), but this uncertainty is a poison for us. Now I'm facing the difficult situation to choose: back in Italy in an University Hospital in Piedmont or risking the unknown with an University Hospital in London. I'm not thinking to myself but to my family too. I accept any advice...

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  • Andrea - just go! Leaving Brexit aside, surely the health economy in Piedmont cannot be worse than the state of the NHS?

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