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.'
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.