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GPs from EU ‘rethinking’ move to UK because of Brexit, recruiter warns

Brexit has meant that a ‘growing’ number of GPs from the EU are ‘rethinking’ coming to work in the UK, a recruitment agency has warned.

Head Medical, the largest UK-based international firm specialising in doctors, has said that overseas doctors are deciding not to work in the UK since the country voted to leave the EU, with an increase in the number of EU doctors ‘rethinking their plans’ to come to the UK.

One GP from France cancelled a move to Scotland, having been ready to take up a job, and is now planning a move to the Republic of Ireland instead where he and his wife ‘can feel more confident about our future’.

The GP, who did not want to be named, said: ‘After the Brexit vote I had to seriously rethink my plans about working in the UK.’

He said that ‘day after day’ he heard ‘pretty annoying and negative things about the Brexit’ but that the ‘final straw’ had been ‘Theresa May’s comments about her immigration proposals for EU citizens and foreign doctors’.

He said: ‘After 10 years of studying to learn medicine and lots of hard work I don’t want to feel uncomfortable working in the UK, thinking all the time of when will they replace me with a UK doctor.

‘I have worked too hard and invested a lot of effort at my own expense to come to the UK only to find out the country clearly doesn’t want me. It is especially sad because I have always thought of the UK as one of the most welcoming places ever.’

The GP said that the ‘current UK situation prevents me from being able to take up a post there’, but he added: ‘However, if Scotland decides to become independent I will gladly reconsider my decision.’

Jo Hood, head of UK recruitment for Head Medical, said the agency has ‘always had a steady stream of doctors who want to come to the UK to work’, including many European GPs, but now the ‘mood among some is changing’.

She said: ‘The UK is facing a major doctor shortage because we don’t train enough and large numbers are nearing retirement or giving up. Our health service depends on attracting overseas staff. But if they don’t feel welcome or are worried about their future as EU citizens in a post-Brexit Britain some will question whether they are still willing to come and work here.

‘The number of EU medical professionals rethinking their plans to come to UK is still small compared to the number of doctors we deal with but it is growing.’

What does Brexit mean for general practice?

The news comes as GPs and other health sector leaders have come together to seek certainty for EU nationals working in the NHS who are worried what Brexit may mean for their future career in the UK.

Although health secretary Jeremy Hunt has pledged for the NHS to become more reliant on ‘homegrown’ doctors, the NHS remains heavily reliant on workers from abroad.

And NHS England is set to push ahead with its plan to recruit hundreds of GPs from Europe, despite Mr Hunt’s pledge.

Pulse revealed in June that Lincolnshire LMC had been working with European medical recruiters to attract GPs to work in the county, and the GP Forward View outlined NHS England’s plan to attract 500 GPs of its 5,000 GP target from overseas.

Aside from the recruitment aspect, GP leaders have also warned GP practices to ‘brace themselves’ for Brexit because of the financial impact it could have on small businesses.