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CAMHS won't see you now

I'm a German GP and I'm having to review my circumstances

Dr Roy Melamed 

I’m German and not officially entitled to an opinion about Brexit. It seems to have come to this, thanks to populism, propaganda and lies (…now where have I heard that one before?)

I’ve lived here and worked for the NHS for the last 30 years; I’m bringing up my family here; have a house; pay my income tax, national insurance, council tax and car tax, and have never claimed a single benefit.

And I came here out of choice, not because I had to or because the job is better-paid here (it’s not), or because I didn’t have a job back home (I did).

I dared to consider myself as equal. Actually, I never thought of that fact before June 2016, but in hindsight, I considered myself as equal without ever having to think about it.

Can the country really afford to get rid of doctors? 

This, along with suddenly having to apply to be allowed to stay, almost like having to beg, leaves a bitter taste. It’s humiliating. 

The fact that applying for ‘settled status’ received the answer that the Home Office has no record for me for the last seven years and therefore I can’t even have pre-settled status without submitting more information made me, like so many others in my position, think whether I really needed this. 

So now I’m considering my options.

Doctors are needed, and not only in the NHS. Conditions aren’t going anywhere and the recruitment crisis is swinging from record to record. Can the country really afford to get rid of us? 

What if we ‘Europeans’ decide to actually go where we’re needed, wanted and treated as equals? What if the NHS loses 30% of its workforce? What next?

My English colleague emotionally opposed the treatment I received by the Home Office to his MP, who reached out to mine. Both MPs subsequently got in touch with the Home Office, then Pulse also made an enquiry on my behalf too and it was eventually resolved.

Amid the turmoil, this made me feel valued and incredibly grateful, but others aren’t as lucky to have such brilliant colleagues.

Within all of the populism, nationalism, elitism, and lies being fed, people need to stop for a moment, breathe and start to think. 

Dr Roy Melamed is a GP in Essex

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Readers' comments (27)

  • Took Early Retirement

    Ja, Sie haben Recht, lieber Kollege. Ich war GP in England für 29 Jahren und bin etwas eher als normal in den Ruhestand gegangen. Ich habe mehr Zeit für meine Hobbys: zB deutsch lernen, und Reisen. Zufällig schreibe ich diese Antwort auf einem Balkon einer Pension in Schönau am Königsee, von wo ich heute Abend das Kehsteinhaus sehen kann obwohl leicht bewölkt. Die Leute heute haben keine Ahnung was Nationalismus und (was ähnlich ist) Rassismus bedeuten und wohin sie uns führen können. Ich wünche Ihnen alles Gute für Ihre Zukunft. Pfiat Di!

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  • Hear hear Roy. I’m ashamed you ever felt this way. Britain used to be a staid, boring, reliable place. Now it’s a post truth nightmare. The country has lost its mind. I wouldn’t blame you for leaving. I did.

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  • I’m a Greek GP. Became a British citizen in 2014 as the writing was on the wall. Besides, I wanted to have full voting rights which you do not have as an EU national.

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  • I’m a British GP and thinking I need to get out of this toxic atmosphere. Just last night I was speaking with two Swedish friends who tell me that Sweden would welcome me with open arms, even though I don’t speak a word of Swedish. Carr on like this and uk will have an exodus of intellectuals and professionals.

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  • Roy,
    I'm a passionate Brexiter -- but I am equally highly upset by the treatment you have received at the hands of the Home Office. Indeed, I was going to offer to support you if you needed assistance by going through various contacts I have - but I'm delighted to see in the later part of your article that the matter is now resolved.

    Rest assured, the problems you have regrettably had to face were never even remotely intended by those, like me, who voted to leave the EU organisation. I know quite a number of Leavers, and I'm know I speak for all of them in saying that I am *appalled* by the way you have been treated.

    However, I also think that this isn't necessarily the fault of the politicians, but of the senior and middle-grade Home Office civil servants who simply haven't got their act together in working out how to validate the residency requirements. Simple reasoning suggests that if you pay tax as a GP for thirty years, then you are presumably in this country and fulfil the residency conditions many times over, and a simple cross-check with the GMC and HMRC should have been able to establish that in a matter of minutes. I do wonder about the quality of the civil servants who can't work out a decent, hassle-free way to go about validating this without causing bother and sheer offence to people such as yourself and your family.

    Equally, I can't get my head round the fact that we are crying out for GPs, yet the civil service and the politicians seem to be incapable of smoothing the path to continuing residency for those who have chosen to live here. Joined-up government it is not.

    Finally, *please* remember that the vast majority of leavers will be like me. We actively like Europe and our European cousins - we just want to leave the dreadful organisation which calls itself the EU.

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  • I am as puzzled as Hogwash. Two of my colleagues are German and they too have dual nationality. The problem is with our Dutch rheumatology consultant as Holland does not allow dual nationality. I hope Roy AND FAMILY apply for naturalisation asap.

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  • Great article Roy. I'm Canadian. I applied for and got British citizenship a few years ago, because I was worried about the increasing hostile environment toward immigrants. At first I was proud to finally be British. I am no longer proud. Brexit shames us all.

    'Lateralthink' I am sorry that you believe Brexit can go ahead without the consequence that immigrants feel more marginalised and afraid. It's isn't the fault of politicians or civil servants; it is the fault of Brexit, and the racist motivations behind it.

    The UK is becoming a little bit smaller, a little bit meaner, and a little bit less relevant in the world.

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  • Some teething problems are always expected in any transition. Your story is a perfect example that people who are highly educated, professional and make a massive contribution to this country do not need to worry about brexit. Some communication might be needed with Home Office etc but I have no doubt that the UK will treat hard working professionals with respect and things will settle after a short while.

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  • My daughter worked in Germany, and experienced the bureaucracy and being treated like dirt phenomenon in getting registered to live there.

    With the AFD currently polling at the same level as the SPD, lectures on nationalism are equally hypocritical.

    My spouse is German, has worked here many years, would never return to Germany to work; and voted Brexit without hesitation.

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  • Shefdoc why aren't you proud to be British? I am a 2nd gen immigrant. The UK on the whole looks after all it's citizens equally regardless of income or race or disability , which is a proud achievement. Of course , this very fact may have led to brexit when the money got tight but that is something which the politicians should have recognised earlier.

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  • "Shefdoc why aren't you proud to be British?"

    I thought that was clear from my post. My reasons for not feeling proud: The increasingly hostile environment for immigrants. The rise of far right and nationalistic rhetoric. The unprecedented national self-harm that is Brexit. Our current Prime Minister who behaves like a dictator. The shrinking state. Austerity. Worsening inequality.

    That sort of thing. There is still much to be proud of, but for me, the UK is at a particular low point right now.

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  • Roy,
    It perplexes me why after working in the UK for 25 years you didn't apply for British citizenship. I have two friends with similar stories who similarly to you feel very bitter about the bureaucracy. I'm afraid as you are an EU citizen you simply have to swallow this process and accept it. It is entirely necessary as we are leaving the EU.

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  • John,
    Nothing perplexing here. We simply didn't need it up to now.
    Re swallowing the fact of having to apply for settled status I think equally pragmatically though and want to tell Roy to just get on with it and don't dwell/whinge. That is if he wants to stay.
    However, after nearly 25 years here I have also come round to considering the unthinkable and preparing my return to Germany for the simple reason that the pendulum of time, supply and demand - albeit slow - has now swung to the position I want it to be at. In comparison to 1995 when I left Germany it now provides me with a better income, a more sensitive attitude towards its "people on the ground", less hassle with personality disordered or plain nasty patients and an infantilising and dishonest system eager to find scapegoats for its many shortcomings.
    The final straw is perhaps that I do not wish to be subjected to rising populism in a country that maybe still has to go through their own national humiliation before wisening up, silly anti-German sentiments and problems people - patients, staff, voters - have with doctors within a class system which was never mine to start out from.

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  • Agree with LateralThink wholeheartedly.
    Shefdoc is wrong to call Brexit racist - on the contrary EU membership is inherently racist as it discriminates in favour of mainly white Europeans. After leaving we can have an immigration policy fair to all.

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  • You will need it!

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  • Hi Roy
    The treatment you received is typical bureaucratic unemotional, dehumanising behaviour that seems to happen in any country if you are on the wrong side of the fence. I don’t think it is reserved just for the U.K. and Brexit. I agree with lateralthink.

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  • I'm really sorry for it all. Personally I felt similarly and have fled to Canada, I'm a Brit. The whole thing is going to cost at least 10 years of prosperity IMO. Get out.

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  • Whoever thinks just getting a British passport solves the issue hasn`t grasped the problem, it is more complex than that. The combination of working conditions, populism, Brexit - all makes for a perfect storm. I worked in the NHS for 20 years and left recently for all those reasons. Feeling much better for it and so does the family!

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  • If only Europe would throw out all the emigrant british GPs, the NHS might find itself awash with spare doctors???
    Or am I as deluded as Julia/Yulia?

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  • Fintan O 'Toole - Heroic Failure. Book is fantastic. Youtube him either.

    He discusses Brexit and how the British have imagined themselves to be oppressed by Europe.

    Really interesting psychology to Brexit and how a lot of it relates to post World War II.

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  • I am confused. EU nationals have been bombarded with emails and offers to take residency/settled status via a Home Office App which literally takes 10 mins to complete and you get residence within 2-3 weeks although initially they promised to give that to you in 3 days. Why not avail of settled status straightaway if you have been here for 25 years. I don't think it is a good idea to take UK citizenship if your EU country doesn't allow citizenship as you will need a visa to travel home.
    (as with the example of our Dutch colleague)

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  • "I am confused. EU nationals have been bombarded with emails and offers to take residency/settled status via a Home Office App which literally takes 10 mins to complete"

    Assuming you have an Android phone - iPhones seem ubiquitous in this profession! ( No iPhone App!!)

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  • Lol ShefDoc throwing around labels like it was Black Friday!

    What race exactly is "anti-immigrant" sentiment directed towards?

    "Far-right"? How is Brexit far-right? You calling all Leavers far-right?
    Conflating far-right and nationalism?

    Self-harm? Ya sometimes we vote in a 'wrong' govt, doesn't mean we don't respect an election result, do we? PM behaves like a dictator? You don't know dictators do you :) What do you think of the Supreme Court, which has assumed authority over the Queen now, and which has zero accountability? You must be BESIDE yourself with rage :) Shrinking state is GOOD, because it is incompetent.

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  • Thanks for this article Roy. I am a German GP who has lived and worked as a doctor in UK for over 20 year and feel very much the same like you. I never felt it necessary to get the british citizenship while UK was in the EU but I am now considering leaving the country. I find the populism and lies from this unelected Prime Minister and the wide acceptance of him very frightening. I don't want to imagine how it would be when Britain leaves the EU and if he wins the next election.

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  • I think you are very brave publishing what many EU doctors/nurses may be thinking right now.

    The UK is simply a fantastic place to train in the theoretical aspects of medicine and has some of the best research projects out there.

    I am an academic Dutch GP at UCL and exactly where I want to be.

    But the truth is that I am in an ivory tower.

    On a much more practical level, the normal work of GP/GP trainees/nurses is much tougher here than back home where there is much more funding for social care and disease prevention.

    My message to future young EU doctors/nurses would be: contribute to and exchange academic knowledge in the UK for a few years but don't stay too long in NHS as you cannot repair years of mismanagement and poor funding.

    Also ask yourself what will happen when there are enough UK doctors/nurses: will you still be wanted?


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  • Took Early Retirement

    There will never be enough home-trained doctors and nurses. All governments are too mean to pay for what is needed. Cheaper to poach them.

    BTW, I am NOT proud to be British, nor English for that matter. I WOULD say that I am pleased to live here, on balance, and compared to much of the world I feel very lucky to have been born here. I may tread on some toes here, but once you start saying yo are "proud" to be "X" (Insert a nationality of your choice here) it is a very short step to "nationalism", and my reading of history is that nationalism has been at the root cause of most of our wars and conflicts over the last 100+ years at least.
    So I'm pleased to be here, but I'm also an internationalist, who would welcome the mixing of races much more; always providing that it occurs in an atmosphere of mutual respect and tolerance. And that's so often the problem.
    Something I saw on a t-shirt recently was very apposite:- "If your religion tells you to hate people because they are not of your religion then YOU need a new religion".

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  • @ShefDoc if you don't mind me asking, why are you still living and working in UK?

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