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GPs go forth

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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