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RCGP backs second EU referendum amid fears Brexit will 'damage' the NHS

The RCGP will back a second referendum on whether the UK should leave the EU, after GPs passed a motion in support of a ‘People’s Vote’.

The motion, put forward during the RCGP Council meeting, called for the college to ‘oppose Brexit’ and allow the public to have a ‘final say on the Brexit deal’, with options to accept or reject the deal, or remain in the EU.

The motion said that the RCGP must recognise that leaving the EU may damage recruitment and retention of the health and social care workforce, as well as restrict access to medicines.

This comes after the college said it was in discussions with lawyers over taking a political position on Brexit and the potential of a second referendum.

The college, as a registered charity, normally does not take political stances, but the RCGP said last month that 'a lot of people would like' it to make an exception for Brexit.

But following the vote, the RCGP will oppose Brexit, which it said  would ‘grievously undermine’ the college’s objective ‘to encourage, foster and maintain the highest possible standards in general medical practice’.

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: ‘The college has considered carefully the implications of taking a view on Brexit, particularly given our status as a registered charity.'

However, she added: ‘We are also a membership body with more than 52,000 members, all of whom will have their own views on the UK exiting the European Union, but the level of feeling by UK Council – who have been elected by the membership to represent their interests – was that the risks of Brexit to the NHS and patient safety and care were significant enough to take a stance...

‘We will now consider how the college can take these decisions forward.'

The BMA announced it would be backing a second Brexit referendum in August, after doctors voted to oppose leaving the EU at the Annual Representative Meeting.

It welcomed the RCGP Council's decision on Twitter, in a tweet that said it was 'great to see our colleagues @rcgp joining the campaign for a #PeoplesVote'.

Motion in full

Recognising that leaving the European Union may damage the recruitment and retention of the healthcare professional workforce in the United Kingdom;

Recognising that leaving the European Union may potentially damage the mutual recognition of the qualifications of healthcare professionals between the European Union and the United Kingdom;

Recognising that leaving the European Union may damage recruitment to, and retention of, the social care workforce;

Recognising that leaving the European Union may damage cross-border arrangements for healthcare between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland;

Recognising that leaving the European Union may damage reciprocal healthcare arrangements between the European Union and the United Kingdom, including eligibility for the European Health Insurance Card;

Recognising that leaving the European Union may damage public health in the United Kingdom and international cooperation on public health;

Recognising that leaving the European Union may damage the United Kingdom’s access to medicines, devices and radioisotopes;

Recognising that leaving the European Union may damage scientific collaboration, scientific and medical research programmes, participation in international clinical trials, including pharmaceutical research studies; free movement of scientists, including medical researchers; and collaboration between universities in the United Kingdom and the European Union;

Recognising the need for the facts about the damage to the UK healthcare professional workforce, public health, access to medicines, devices and radio-isotopes, and damage to the National Health Service, science, research and universities to be put before the citizens of the United Kingdom;

The Council of the Royal College of General Practitioners believes that the objective, non-partisan evidence in relation to the deleterious effects of Brexit on health and healthcare means that the College should oppose Brexit, because the object for which the College is incorporated is ‘to encourage, foster and maintain the highest possible standards in general medical practice’; because the College is obliged ‘to take or join with others in taking any steps consistent with the charitable nature of that object’; and that object would be grievously undermined by Brexit.

The Council of the Royal College of General Practitioners believes that the public should have a final say on the Brexit deal, including the options of accepting the deal, rejecting the deal, and remaining within the European Union.

Source: RCGP

Readers' comments (22)

  • Cobblers

    I fear for democracy if this comes to pass. A sign over the ballot box.

    "Vote how you like but if we, your representatives, don't get the result we want, we will have the vote again....and again....until we get the result we want".

    Effectively the end of a 2500 year experiment from Athens to current. The Demos Kratos would be gone and Cleisthenes would turn in his grave.

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  • Brexit may indeed damage the NHS.
    however this Is insignificant compared to the damage done by the RCGP with its political posturing and its many years of toadying to a government intent on destruction of primary care.

    the RCGP does not represent GPs, certainly not me. yet now it now seems to want to represent the whole UK electorate.
    just stop paying the fees all you out there

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  • Peter Swinyard

    "To encourage, foster and maintain the highest possible standards in general medical practice"
    Seriously? Where in the governance does political posturing come into it? Do they know that the overwhelming majority of their members are Remainers? Even then, it ill behoves them to nail their colours to a transient political mast. I think that they are well-meaning but seriously misguided. They are also fighting against a majority democratically achieved referendum vote. Or do we have to do as the EU would like and keep on voting until we come up with the "right" answer?

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  • Is this satire, a misguided attempt at humour?

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  • Very, very odd - I thought RCGP was politically independent. Can I now indoctrinate my patients with my own religious and political views......

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  • Totally inappropriate. RCGP should be politically neutral. Certainly not democratic to ask for another vote. They are certainly not representing GPS, who may have as many disparate opinions as the rest of the population.

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  • David Banner

    These RCGP clowns foisted the annual nightmare of appraisal on us, have been as effective as an ashtray on a motorcycle in defending us from the government onslaught against GPs, but they are so trumped up with their own inflated sense of importance that they think anyone cares about their views on Brexit.
    Anyone who still pays their subs to this deluded rabble should hang their heads in shame.

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  • The RCGP should try to stay politically neutral. They shouldn't have said this

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  • AlanAlmond

    This has got NOTHING to do with the RCGP

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  • A dangerous precedent.

    Politicians have every right to denounce the RCGP for taking a political stance.

    The repercussions will take their effect on the RCGP in due course.

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