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Call for EU healthcare workers to be given permanent residence, as Brexit talks begin

The government must put the NHS and healthcare front and centre in Brexit negotiations, warns BMA

With Brexit negotiations beginning today, the BMA is calling on the government to protect future patient care by prioritising the NHS workforce in its plans.

Since the vote to leave the EU, the BMA has been calling on the government to:

  • Give the 10,000 highly skilled EU doctors and medical researchers in the UK – 42% of whom have told the BMA that are considering leaving in light of Brexit – permanent residence in the UK
  • Ensure a flexible immigration system which meets the needs of the UK health service and medical research sector
  • Preserve existing reciprocal arrangements, including mutual recognition of professional qualifications and measures which protect patient safety
  • Secure ongoing access to EU research programmes and research funding, to maintain the UK’s world-leading science and research base
  • Ensure Brexit does not hinder the UK’s ability to play a leading role in European and international efforts to tackle global health threats

Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said: “With the NHS at breaking point, the government must keep the health service and its patients at the forefront during Brexit negotiations and control the impact that leaving the EU will have on health and social care across the UK.

“Leaving the EU poses several risks to healthcare across the UK, not least in its staffing as almost half of the 10,000 doctors working here are considering leaving in light of the referendum result. These doctors have enhanced the UK’s medical research, brought expertise to the NHS and higher education, and filled shortages in specialties which may otherwise have been unable to cope.”

The government did recently pledge to provide certainty for EU nationals working in the NHS, which the BMA welcomes.

But Porter added: “It is vital that the next government ensures long-term stability for the NHS by protecting life-changing medical research which benefits from European funding, and ensuring that leaving the EU will not delay the UK’s access to vital pharmaceuticals, guaranteeing that leaving the EU will not hinder our efforts to tackle global health threats.”

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