'Almost half' of European Union doctors considering leaving United Kingdom after Brexit

Modesto Morganelli
Novembre 14, 2017

Nearly one in five European doctors have made concrete plans to leave the United Kingdom following Brexit.

The BMA said that 12,000 EEA nationals make up 7.7% of the NHS doctor workforce and are "vital" to ensuring that the health service can provide high-quality, reliable and safe patient care.

Almost half of NHS doctors from continental Europe are considering quitting the United Kingdom because of Brexit, and nearly one in five has already made solid plans to do so, according to a new survey.

In the UK-wide survey of more than 1,700 doctors who gained their primary qualification in another European country, the British Medical Association (BMA) found that nearly half (45 per cent) were considering leaving the United Kingdom following its exit from the EU, while 19 per cent had already arranged to move elsewhere for work.

Director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, Saffron Cordery, said: "There is increasing evidence that Brexit is having an adverse impact on staff recruitment and retention in the NHS".

Of the EEA doctors questioned for the survey, 45% said they were considering leaving the United Kingdom, with a further 29% saying they were not sure whether they would leave or not.

The top three reasons for leaving were the result of a year ago Brexit vote, current episodes of negative behaviour towards European Union workers in the United Kingdom and the uncertainty around immigration rules.

Dr Andrew Dearden, BMA treasurer, said: "Many have dedicated years of service to the NHS and medical research in the United Kingdom, and without them our health service would not be able to cope".

'We need clarity on what the future holds for European Union citizens and their families living in the United Kingdom, and an end to the uncertainty and insecurity that could see many voting with their feet.

77% of those surveyed by the BMA said they would be more likely to leave the United Kingdom if there was a negative outcome in Brexit negotiations over citizens' rights.

"These new figures from the BMA are alarming, especially at a time when the NHS workforce is already under enormous pressure because of staff shortages, and impending winter difficulties are only going to exacerbate the problem", he said.

Labour MP Darren Jones, a leading supporter of the Open Britain campaign said: "The British people were told past year that Brexit would boost the NHS by £350 million a week".

"It is also 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".

The organisation urged the Government to guarantee permanent residence rights for European Union doctors and medical researchers, as well as a flexible future immigration system which supports health and medical research in the UK.

A Department for Health spokesperson told the Guardian that the research was inaccurate.

But a Department of Health spokesman said: "This survey does not stand up to scrutiny".

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