NHS under threat due to mass exodus of EU expat doctors

Published:  8 Mar at 6 PM
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Surveys by the GMC and BMA show huge numbers of EU medical professionals planning to leave the UK

Rising insecurity in the ranks of EU doctors caused by a lack of information about EU expats' post-Brexit rights has resulted in a survey showing 60 per cent of respondents are considering leaving the UK. A survey of EU doctors working in the UK revealed 60 per cent of respondents are intending to leave the UK’s national health services, with Brexit the reason given by 91 per cent of respondents. The study was undertaken by the UK’s General Medical Council and followed on similar research by the British Medical Association.

The GMC survey involved 2115 expat doctors originating from the European Economic Area, all of whom are at present working within the NHS, with the results indicating Britain’s heathcare services would be under severe threat of collapse until alternative medical professionals could be employed. The BMA study produced similar, if not quite so dramatic results, but confirmed the lack of government reassurance over the right to remain is already having a detrimental effect on health services in the UK.

Over 1,000 NHS-employed respondents took part in the BMA study, with more than 40 per cent saying they were considering leaving the UK due to Brexit and 23 per cent stating they were, as yet, unsure. The study also revealed European doctors were now far less committed to their NHS work.

Around 135,000 EU expat health professionals are employed within the UK’s social care and NHS system. According to totalled figures from both surveys, around half the number are considering leaving and are giving the potential effect of Brexit on their work as well as on their right to remain as the reasons. Their concerns are understandable as both the EU and the UK are seen to be using expats as bargaining chips in Brexit negotiations, and recent government rhetoric about ‘home-grown doctors’ is making even those determined to stay feel unvalued and unwanted.

The BMA has warned the government it will need to prioritise UK heathcare services in the post-Brexit period and is urging the granting of permanent residence to all EU expats employed at UK hospitals. It’s also recommending a simplification of immigration processes for overseas doctors wishing to work in the NHS in the future.

Source: British Medical Journal
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