Less than a quarter of European doctors working in the NHS feel confident of their rights after Brexit, the BMA has found.
Its survey of over 1,500 doctors from EEA countries showed that 78% are not reassured by the Prime Minister’s commitment to protect their rights.
It also found that over a third of the doctors (37%) are not aware of the Government’s ‘settled status’ scheme for EU nationals, despite plans for NHS staff to form part of a cohort able to pilot the scheme starting later this month.
The BMA fears the uncertainty will lead to an exodus of doctors, with 35% of survey respondents considering leaving the UK.
However, 66% of doctors said they were committed to working in the UK.
The BMA is now calling on UK leaders to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in case of a no-deal Brexit.
BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘While the Government has offered to “honour their commitments”, these survey results show that EU doctors are not at all convinced that their rights will be protected should we crash out of the bloc without a deal. We need a firm, formal guarantee from the Prime Minister and the Brexit Secretary outlining how their rights will be safeguarded in this scenario.
‘There is also a distinct lack of awareness of the government’s settlement scheme among EU doctors, and we would urge all healthcare workers to apply as early as possible once the pilot is launched at the end of this month. The Government must further guarantee that this scheme is honoured in the event of a no-deal Brexit, to protect the rights of EU healthcare staff and ensure patient care does not suffer if negotiations end without agreement.’
The BMA, which is opposed to Brexit, has called for a public vote on any Brexit deal. It has also warned that proposed stricter immigration requirements could ‘create chaos in the NHS’ and have a ‘huge knock-on effect’ on general practice.