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23.02.17

Almost half of EU workforce considering leaving UK, BMA reveals

Almost half of the NHS’s EU workforce is considering leaving the UK, whilst over 50% don’t think the government does enough for international doctors, a survey conducted by the BMA has found.

A total of 42% of doctors surveyed said they might leave the UK, whilst an additional 23% said they were unsure about whether they would stay in the country.

The significance and uncertainty from Brexit, coupled with government rhetoric about ‘home-grown’ doctors, has led to many workers feeling marginalised to the point of seriously considering moving from the UK.

The BMA review of the medical workers from the EU was taken from 1,193 respondents and sought to shed light on the opinions and experiences of some of the 135,000 EU workers, who only last week said that Brexit uncertainty was leaving the workforce “frightened and anxious” of their future.

European doctors were asked on a scale of one to 10 if they felt significantly less committed to working in the UK in light of the Brexit result; from an average of nine out of 10, commitment dropped to six out of 10.

Commenting on the findings, BMA council chair Dr Mark Porter called for greater support for EU NHS workers to avoid further “disaster” for the NHS.

“Thousands of overseas and EU doctors work in the NHS with many more in public health, academic medicine, and medical research. While doctors work to provide the best possible care for patients, many from the EU are left feeling unwelcome and uncertain about whether they and their families will have the right to live and work in the UK after Brexit,” he said.

“These are the people who staff our hospitals and GP surgeries, look after vulnerable patients in the community, and conduct vital medical research to help save lives. Many have dedicated years of service to healthcare in the UK, so it’s extremely concerning that so many are considering leaving.”

Dr Porter argued that at a time when “the NHS is close to a breaking point and facing crippling staff shortages”, this would be a disaster for the health system and the delivery of good care.  

“But this isn’t just about numbers, having a variety of skilled professionals enhances the experience and expertise in the health system which is beneficial to patient care,” he concluded.

Commenting on the findings, a Department of Health spokesperson said: “As the government has repeatedly made clear, overseas workers form a crucial part of our NHS and we value their contribution immensely.

“We want to see the outstanding work of doctors and nurses who are already trained overseas continue, but at the same time we have been very clear that we want to give more domestic students the chance to be doctors, given the enduring popularity of this as a career.”

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