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Health committee chair calls for 'unequivocal right to remain' for EU doctors

House of Commons Health Committee chair and former GP Dr Sarah Wollaston has called for all EU doctors practising in the NHS to be given immediate guarantees about their future in the UK.

Dr Wollaston, speaking in an exclusive interview with Pulse, said that the 'very significant' part of the NHS workforce which is made up of EU nationals should be given an 'unequivocal right to remain'.

It comes as the Health Committee's enquiry into the effect on NHS of the UK's exit from the EU started earlier this week, with GMC chief executive Charlie Massey among those expressing concern about the impact on the NHS workforce.

This followed a GMC survey showing that 60% of EU doctors were thinking of quitting the UK in light of Brexit and a BMA survey showing a similar result.

In her Pulse interview, Dr Wollaston said this issue would be one of the key themes of the committee's Brexit enquiry.

She said: 'We’ll be considering the position of those [EU nationals] who work in health and social care – and that’s a very, very significant part of our workforce.

'My view is that they should be given an unequivocal right to remain.'

Dr Wollaston also spoke to Pulse about the importance of ensuring the funding pledged to general practice in the GP Forward View is delivered to the frontline, and said health education leaders should work on making it easier for doctors in other specialties to switch to a career in general practice - like she did at the beginning of her own medical career.

Read the full interview here

Readers' comments (6)

  • Azeem Majeed

    For many decades, the NHS has faced shortages in its clinical workforce and has relied heavily on overseas trained doctors, nurses and other health professionals to fill these gaps. This reliance on overseas-trained staff will not end in the foreseeable future. The recruitment of overseas-trained health professionals has been facilitated by EU legislation on the mutual recognition of the training of health professionals. This means that health professionals trained in one EU country can work in another EU country without undergoing a period of additional training. Moving forwards, it’s unclear that this cross-EU recognition of clinical training will continue, placing further pressure on recruitment and thereby exacerbating shortages of health professionals.

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  • Vinci Ho

    '' I’ll be chairing an enquiry into Brexit, and the first strand of this is going to be looking at the implications for healthcare''

    Didn't see you putting forward any ammenment for the interest of NHS when the simplified Brexit legislation was passing through House of Commons a few weeks ago. Now we had the government's first defeat ironically by House of Lords on the future of EU citizens already living in UK. So are you going to propagate any amendment when the whole thing came back to House of Commons about these EU medical colleagues currently working in U.K.?More importantly , what about those people who had been conned to believe so much money would be pumped back to NHS every week after Brexit ? If you really want to save NHS , there is no better time , my love.

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  • Being a bit of an devil's advocate, why should health care professionals get a different immigration rules? Are we some how more important then the bankers (most successful secotr business in uk), police, social workers, etc. Clearly some profssions are needed more then the other but this will not be static.

    We should either goto point based immigration system or allow none.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Interesting
    Every time I went on the mode of devil advocate, I already had some uncertainties about the right or wrong of what I said.
    For the sake of the argument, let's say Brexit is our telos , purpose realistically once the Article 50 is invoked at the end of this month. What are the virtues and moral issues that it should award and honour ? (Remember the history and character of our country).
    Many of these EU citizens living in this country currently , like our medical colleagues, are well educated and skilled contributing significantly to the country.(The far right would still want to call them 'aliens' consuming the resources of our country). Clearly , this is even more evident if you look at the breakdown of NHS workforce with respect to ethnic origins.
    So where is the moral responsibility to honour those who have been contributing substantially to the well being and stability of our country.Simply kick them out of the country???(same to say about the UK citizens currently working in EU).
    That is why , at least , amendments to the legislation of Brexit are necessary to ensure this battle between political reality and moral responsibility is not entirely one-sided.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Confucius had a saying about where intellects and scholars should go:
    ''Make yourself visible , hence useful , to a nation(government) which has got the 'Way'; make sure you hide away if the 'Way' is destroyed .'' Analects.(邦有道則見,無道則隱)
    So ,dear prime minister , have you got or lost your 'Way'?

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  • Vinci - I haven't suggested we discount the services offered by those in certain profession. But if we are going to do it, we need to do it for all the professions/job.

    And what about those which is not classed as a "job" but still very important to the society? Should a spouce of important profesison be allowed to stay? What if they have kids who needs education (and hence in need of public funds). What if they are a professional but has criminal record? etc etc

    Dr Wollastone's suggestion, whilst I can see her reasons, is far too simplistic and descriminatory. If we are concerned, we need to find a logical reason for immigration pronto or - dare I say it - delay Brexit till such time as we've figured how it may affect the work force/economy/health/international relationship and how to deal with them? Right now, it sounds like a broken marriage where both parties is in a hurry to divorce, they forget what they'll be loosing at the end (ask a 1/2 decent solicitor, they'll tell you the only winner in a divorce settlement is the solicitors!)

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