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‘Almost half’ of EU doctors considering leaving UK after Brexit

Almost half (45%) of doctors from the European Economic Area (EEA) working in the UK are considering leaving as a consequence of the Brexit vote, a new survey by the BMA has revealed.

The survey of 1,720 EEA doctors found that one in five (18%) has already made plans to leave the UK.

The top three reasons for leaving were the result of last year Brexit vote, current episodes of negative behaviour towards EU workers in the UK and the uncertainty around immigration rules.

The survey also showed that 77% of the respondents will feel encouraged to leave the UK if there is a negative outcome to Brexit negotiations on EU citizens’ rights.

The BMA has asked the Government to look after the NHS long-term stability after the UK leaves the EU.

The BMA’s key demands include:

  • Permanent residence for EU doctors and medical researchers currently in the UK;
  • A flexible immigration system which supports UK health and medical research;
  • Mutual recognition of professional qualifications and measures which protect patient safety;
  • Ongoing access to EU research programmes and research funding;
  • Consideration of the unique impact Brexit may have on Northern Ireland’s health service.

There are currently about 12,000 EEA doctors in the NHS, which constitutes 7.7% of the UK medical workforce.

Around 3,122 GPs working in the UK originally graduated in an EU country other than the UK, according to a GMC report published earlier this year. The report pointed out that about 5% of GPs first qualified outside the UK.

BMA treasurer Dr Andrew Dearden said: ‘It’s vital that any future immigration system is flexible enough to ensure the NHS can recruit and retain doctors and other NHS workers in sufficient numbers. Our NHS and patient care are all the richer for having a diverse workforce – it’s crucial we don’t lose valuable experience and expertise because of Brexit.’

GPs are concerned that the number of staff working in general practice will decrease as a result of Brexit, as a survey published by Cogora earlier this year has shown.

Last July, the Government increased the number of oversea doctors it will recruit from 500 to around 2,000, in order to meet its pledge to deliver 5,000 more GPs by 2020.