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BMA backs second referendum on Brexit final deal

The BMA has backed a second Brexit referendum, after doctors voted to oppose leaving the EU at the Annual Representative Meeting last month.

The Independent launched the ‘Final Say’ campaign last week by opening a petition calling for a vote on the final Brexit deal, with over 400,000 people signing the petition so far.

The BMA’s Brexit lead Dr Andrew Dearden said it is ‘imperative’ that the public has a say in the final deal as ‘no one could have imagined the extent of the complications’ posed by leaving the EU.

He said: ‘We know that doctors are worried that Brexit could seriously undermine the provision of healthcare in the UK and Europe.

‘The challenges posed by Brexit are considerable and though there has been some progress, there is too much uncertainty around what the implications will be for doctors and the health service.

‘We already know, for example, that Brexit has had a huge impact on the morale of EU NHS staff working here – our own research has shown us that almost half of NHS staff from the EU are considering leaving the UK because of the EU referendum.’

The BMA’s ‘Brexit briefings’, which outlined its stance earlier this year, previously warned: ‘Any reduction in the number of doctors migrating to the UK will therefore undoubtedly exacerbate workforce shortages, impacting staffing levels on hospital wards, in GP practices and in community settings across the UK.’

Official statistics have shown that the GP workforce shortage continues to worsen as 1,000 GPs left the profession since 2015, when the health secretary announced plans to add 5,000 GPs to the workforce by 2020.

Meanwhile, NHS England continues to pursue its target of recruiting 2,000 GPs from overseas by 2020, with just 85 in posts as of the end of March.

This comes after BMA doctors voted to ‘oppose Brexit as a whole’ at the Annual Representative Meeting in June.