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Government negotiators working to secure recognition of EU GPs after Brexit

GPs from the EU should continue to have their qualifications automatically recognised in the UK after Brexit, the Government has said.

In a speech, Brexit secretary David Davis said progress had been made on protecting qualifications both for EU citizens practising in the UK and UK citizens living in EU countries.

And, speaking to Pulse, the Department for Exiting the EU said it wants this to extend to GPs who arrive after the UK's EU exit is completed - currently expected in March 2019.

The success of talks will prove vital to health secretary Jeremy Hunt, whose pledge to boost the GP workforce by 5,000 by 2020 relies on some 2,000-3,000 GPs relocating to England from the EU.

NHS England is focusing its recruitment efforts on the EU where doctors' qualifications have automatic recognition in other member states, subject to disciplinary or criminal sanction checks.

This means they can be recruited more swiftly than GPs from outside the continent and they are now expected to make up the lion’s share of the health secretary's workforce pledge.

The policy paper published after a speech from Mr Davis following the end of the third round of negotiations last week, highlighted a number of areas of discussions with regards to recognition of qualifications.

Mr Davis said: ‘On mutual recognition of qualifications, we have made progress in protecting the recognition of qualifications for British citizens resident in the EU27 and EU27 citizens in the UK.’

Explaining the paper, which in addition to doctors affects lawyers, engineers, coach drivers and slaughtermen, a Brexit department spokesperson told Pulse the two sides in the negotiations are in agreement that a doctor from an EU state ‘should still have that recognition grandfathered [maintained despite a change in law] after exit'.

But they added that the British Government 'would like to go further' than that, 'so that a doctor from an EU27 member state who holds a European qualification that would be recognised under the current system, but doesn't currently live in the UK, should have the right to have their qualification recognised if they moved to the UK after exit'.

BMA GP Committee workforce lead Dr Krishna Kasaraneni said the UK 'will need GPs with the necessary qualifications from across Europe and elsewhere to fill the many vacancies that exist in struggling practices'.

But he lamented that more effort was not put into improving working conditions for GPs.

He said: 'The Government's promises of extra GPs have so far failed to deliver and that’s primarily because of failure to address the fundamental problems that discourage any doctor from becoming a GP.'

The news comes as the Guardian published a leaked Government document this week which said the UK would be more selective about immigration after Brexit, but which would see it taking a more lenient approach to high-skilled workers whose input would benefit the country.

But despite the approach, the BMA's treasurer Dr Andrew Dearden expressed concern that the document would 'worry the thousands of European doctors and other NHS staff working in the UK' because it meant the end to free movement.

He added: 'More than a year has passed since the referendum yet the Government has failed to produce any detail on what the future holds for EU citizens and their families living in the UK.'

Readers' comments (8)

  • Azeem Majeed

    Even the UK continues to recognise EU-obtained medical qualifications, the UK will be a less attractive place to work in the future because of the fall in the value of the pound against the Euro; and the very negative attitude we see towards the EU from many sections of our society (including politicians and the media).

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  • Workforce challenges are severe and protracted! Government policy over years has discouraged Family Medicine! Rigorous oversight of qualifications and language skills essential as well as an urgent recruitment drive.

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  • Vinci Ho

    You see
    DD has been trying to water down the ruthlessness of the government's Brexit plan all these times.On one hand , drastic changes are inevitable but he wanted to pretend businesses could be still as usual . The Great Repeal Bill is becoming the Great Reception Bill and his idea was just 'transferring' what is written in the EU legislations directly into British Laws. Things are obviously not as simple as that . If there are any irregularities, the plan is to exercise Henry VIII power to iron out differences for the sake of efficiency. Typical Tories.
    One can say similar argument lies in recruiting these EU GP colleagues. Get the number right first and any questionable issues can be overidden by executive measures.
    But have they thought about the feelings of these EU colleagues ?You are only allowing me to stay maximally 5 years as according to the definition of 'high skill migrants' , to start with !!
    Rational beings deserve respect , dignity and should be treated as ends rather than means , as according to Immanuel Kant.

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  • AlanAlmond

    The government was never going to ask EU trained Drs to leave..get real. The NHS has relied on non U.K. trained staff for decades..way before we became part of the EU. if all you have ever known and have knowledge of is a UK chained to the dictatorial bureaucrats of Brussels you have a very narrow, ignorant and short term view of the country you are living in.

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  • The RCGP continue to fail hundreds of IMGs taking CSA exam , telling to have high standard while EU doctors coming to the UK with a very low knowledge of English and communication skills sitting beside UK graduates practising. Where is the RCGP to keep this high standard??

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  • No disrespect to my EU colleagues. Some dont even know how to communicate effectively?Are they better than someone who are trained in the UK?

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  • Just Your Average Joe

    There is essentially huge discrimination being perpetuated here with an open door policy on EU doctors and GP entrants compared with any other doctor from around the world.

    Working in any system other than the NHS is different, especially in countries where it is not state funded.

    Prescribing, investigation and referral practices and pathways are the tip of the differences.

    How can you justify letting an EU GP come pretty much straight in when they speak limited English etc, vs someone (though may be unlikely to happen) from Australia where language is no barrier and some GP like services match to a fair degree.

    Also hugely unfair to anyone sitting through the CSA and UK GP training program to be told an EU doctor can walk straight in and start work.

    Although the RCGP will object as they would loose vital income for their building fund, the best solution to the CSA is, to return to trainees passing to become GPs, and return to the MRCGP being a standard of excellence that all GPs may wish and be encouraged to attain, but not mandatory.

    This would also end the debacle of good doctors who have completed training being stopped from working due to an exit exam which is still haunted by bias.

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  • is unfair in many ways, someone decides that trainees spend your £1685 5x on csa before we say you are good enough...,actually no your 'accent is different'patients may not understand you..well we will spend £100m to fill up gp vacancies with EU Gps

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