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GMC warns that 60% of EU doctors are considering quitting the country

The GMC chief executive has warned MPs that more than half of NHS doctors from the EU may leave the UK, in a ‘worrying’ development for the workforce-hit NHS.

Giving evidence to the House of Commons Health Committee today, Charlie Massey said a GMC survey of over 2,000 doctors – around 10% of all doctors from the European Economic Area in the UK – found that staggering numbers were thinking about quitting the NHS.

The figures are even greater than those released by the BMA last week, which found that four-in-10 were thinking of leaving the UK in light of Brexit – on a smaller sample size of 1,000 doctors.

The survey, which only closed only last week, found that some 90% of respondents quoted Brexit as the reason why they were considering leaving.

Results in full

  • 1,280 of 2,106 doctors (60%) said they were considering leaving the UK at some point.
  • Of these, 91% (1,171) said Brexit was a factor in this consideration.
  • 45% of those considering leaving (586 respondents) said they were considering leaving in the next two years, while 24.2% (312) said they were considering leaving in three to five years. 24.9% (320) said they hadn’t considered when they might leave.

Source: GMC survey of 2,115 doctors who identified themselves as EEA nationals holding registration with a licence to practise who are currently practising in the UK (either wholly or partly)

Although Mr Massey warned that the survey was self-selecting and therefore was ‘not necessarily going to be predictive of future behaviour’, he said it sent a ‘worrying signal’.

Mr Massey added: ‘We have also done our own bit of work which only closed at the end of last week, which tends to reinforce some of what the BMA survey said… Actually a slightly higher proportion said they were considering leaving the UK, about 60%… and of those about 90% said that was because of Brexit, so of the 2,000 just over half said they were considering leaving because of Brexit.

‘Now, that needs to be treated with a degree of caution. This is a self-selecting group of people who have responded to that survey, what people say is not necessarily going to be predictive of future behaviour. But it does send I think a worrying signal in terms of the stock of doctors currently working in the UK.

‘If you look at what people said in their free text comments in our survey basically there were two reasons that came out as being the drivers of that. Firstly, a question of whether or not doctors felt valued and wanted in the NHS and secondly a question of the uncertainty over their continuing and future residence status.’

The news comes as NHS England is defying Brexit and pushing ahead with trying to recruit hundreds of new GPs from the EU with a guaranteed £90,000 salary.

The GP Forward View outlined NHS England’s plan to attract 500 GPs of its 5,000 GP target from overseas.

The £20 million scheme to help ease the GP recruitment crisis will see GPs from EU countries working at practices across the UK from October.

Pulse revealed last summer that Lincolnshire LMC had been working with European medical recruiters to attract GPs to work in the county. GPs from Poland, Romania and Spain have been targeted and 13 GPs have been recruited so far.

This comes despite health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s pledge last year for the NHS to start relying on ‘homegrown’ doctors.