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Fears that the UK could lose more than 3,000 existing GPs due to Brexit

One in 20 GPs across the UK gained their primary medical qualification in an EU country, according to figures which have renewed fears about the impact of Brexit on a workforce already at breaking point.

A GMC report showed that 3,122 GPs graduated in an EU country other than the UK, most commonly Ireland, Italy, Germany, Romania, Poland, Spain, Netherlands and France.

The figures – which also include data from non-EU Switzerland, Norway and Iceland – show that in England 2,429 or 5% of GPs first qualified outside the UK.

Northern Ireland has the highest proportion of GPs graduating from a European country at 11%, or 185 GPs.

Both Scotland (226) and Wales (102) have 4% of GPs who got their primary medical degree in a European country.

A further 191 GPs qualified in Europe but were not linked to a specific region, the GMC figures show.

European GPs practising in the UK

Northern Ireland: 185 (11%)

England: 2,429 (5%)

Scotland: 226 (4%)

Wales: 102 (4%)

Total UK: 3,122 (5%)

Source: GMC, as indicated by country where they trained (EEA).

The RCGP said that although some of these GPs may be UK citizens, the figures were a strong indicator of a doctor's origin - and their potential loss due to Brexit is of ‘grave concern’ for patient safety.

It comes as everal surveys have warned that Brexit will have a damaging impact on staffing of GP practices - including a previous GMC audit showing 60% of EU doctors are considering quitting the country, and a BMA poll which showed EU doctors are already feeling significantly less valued by the Government.

And the RCGP, BMA and MPs have all called on politicians to safeguard GPs during the Brexit negotiations - but as yet to no avail.

RCGP Scotland chair Dr Miles Mack said: ‘There is already a projected deficit of 828 whole-time equivalent GPs in Scotland, by 2021.

‘To learn that Scotland could face the loss of an additional 4% of its already stretched GP workforce is extremely worrying.

‘We are calling for the Government to safeguard the GP workforce during international negotiations by guaranteeing the status of healthcare professionals already working in Scotland and the UK.’

He added that a further 146 GPs in Scotland were facing possible removal because they were nationals of other EU member states.

‘Again, we must call for immediate action to prevent that clear harm to the health service.’

RCGP Wales chair Dr Rebecca Payne warned that Brexit may have a significant impact on healthcare services.

‘I urge candidates to protect the GP workforce in Wales during the Brexit negotiations and make it as easy as possible for doctors and other healthcare professionals from the EU to move to Wales and other parts of the UK.’

A report from Pulse publisher Cogora, published in March, found a majority of GPs worry that the number of staff working in practices will reduce after Brexit.

No guaranteeing EU doctors' right to remain in the UK

Health minister David Mowat told the Pulse Live conference in March that the Department of Health is 'unambiguous' that GPs from the EU should be able to stay on after Brexit.

But Prime Minister Theresa May has refused to guarantee the right to remain of any EU citizens until all EU countries do the same with regards to UK citizens - and she has said the UK will leave the EU even if there is 'no deal'

Meanwhile, NHS England is in the process of recruiting 500 GPs from Europe in a bid to hit the Government's target of hiring 5,000 additional GPs by 2020.

This includes the areas of Lincolnshire - NHS England's 'blueprint' for the expanding scheme - and Essex, which are taking in more than 50 recruits between them this year.

This comes despite health secretary Jeremy Hunt's pledge last year that the NHS will start relying more on 'homegrown' doctors.

 

 

Readers' comments (17)

  • ...it only get's better! (NOT) - Ahhh !!!- We've already lost a great dutch GP who can't bear UK GP any more!

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  • The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee report into progress on the primary care workforce in the FYFV quoted this figure at the end of April. The sooner the rest of the EU and HMG sort out reciprocal residence rights the better but the prospect of GPs trained abroad being deported seems rather fanciful even for "project fear." On the other hand whether colleagues will want to stay in the NHS is entirely another matter...

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  • Disappearing Doc

    If they leave it'll be because the job is shit..not because their feelings have been a little bruised by brexit. No government is going to chuck EU trained Drs out of the UK, to suggest this is actually a bit silly isn't it?

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  • I agree that is is stupid to suggest brexit will drive established doctors out.

    In pharma there are plenty of european scientists and medics. None plan to leave unless the job changes.

    Having said that I've never been impressed with some of the European doctors and the fact they are exempt from UK tests. it may allow standards to be enforced.

    What working GP's don't realize is - a complete collapse is a good thing - not a slow motion one!

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  • It's not Brexit for sure.... I think these GPs had enough of overdemanding UK GP jobs. I am sure they will be better off 😓

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  • Vinci Ho

    (1) As I said before , the incoming government has political , legislative and moral responsibilities to settle this issue of EU citizens currently working in U.K. To be 'strong and stable' and drive them out after Brexit is politically suicidal. Cannot see that happening by my common sense . But practically it is a headache to No.10 Downing Street , especially there are three times the number of EU citizens in U.K. compared to U.K. citizens in EU.
    (2) Further demoralising these EU GP colleagues because of Brexit is certainly another level of consideration for them to leave this country voluntarily. People like Simon Stevens should be very sensitive to this issue.
    (3) Be careful of this 'xenophobic trap' when one starts to compare who is more competent , who is not so qualified....... We should be fighting the same common enemy

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  • Anonymous Locum GP

    i don't think that anyone seriously thinks that ALL European GPs will leave. Some will leave but many are going to stay as they have roots now in the UK and as bad as things are here it is proabably better than in their native country.

    the question is to ask how many GPs do we need to satisfy current projected demands - the government says 5000 (that is what they are aiming for) and the RCGP says 12000 but does that include the new aims of the state i.e. 7 day working and a&e provision?

    the next question is in a few years time will we reach that number? for many years i've read posts suggesting that there will be mass retirements, emigration etc but it hasn't happen. every GP that I know who has retired has continued working as a locum so realistically I don't think we are going to see the kind of loss to the profession that is talked about but equally I can't see the extra 5000 GPs that the government has promised materalising. I think we will have the samer numbers as we have now but we will have to service greater demand. What will probably happen is that there will be a desire to gain further indepence via plan B to reduce workload and maintain funding i.e. there will be a shift to more GPs wanting out of the NHS.

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  • Folks, you don't get it do you...
    5000 12000 25000 new GPs ?
    The real plan is have a cheaper alternative to GP across the board
    80% of what GP now does can be done by a nurse now anyway. Admit it I dare you.
    15 to 19% of the rest is Cardigan bulls**. Any serious 1% pathology gets diagnosed&managed by non GP anyway

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  • Disappearing Doc

    Monty ..I'm sorry but you are full of sh&t. GP is a broad church that's part of its strength ..but it does mean there are fools among us and you are one of them. If you have such a low opinion of the job that you do why are you doing it? This in itself speaks volumes.
    '80% of what a GP does can be done by a nurse' you say - simplistic rubbish and generally only possible to state AFTER you've seen them or AFTER you triaged them.
    Yes I agree the adgenda is to replace GPs with cheaper folk with less training but if you think this will save the NHS any money overall your a short sighted idiot. ..and what the f£&k is a cardigan anyway? Give us a break

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  • I'm afraid Disappearing Doc that Monty is more or less right.
    - every trend has been to make us refer-ologists.
    - from WITHIN OUR OWN RANKS we hear a chorus of "don't take on the risk" just refer t secondary. Once bitten by a complaint. And this is what protocol driven Noctors Phoctors PhysAss are being lined up to do
    - Are you really a GP ? Do you not know the absolute wrecking ball that Cardigan-minded idiots have smashed through independent general practice in the last 20 years? Get out and feel the wooly buttons and the sagging waist pockets full of trademarked Puns & Dens
    - the agenda is NOT about saving money at all. It is about CONTROL of the health care providers

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