Hospital Dr News

Many European doctors working in the NHS are considering returning home

A BMA survey of European doctors working in the UK has found that almost half are considering leaving following the EU referendum result, with almost one in five having already made solid plans to relocate elsewhere.

There are approximately 12,000 European doctors working in the NHS – 7.7% of the medical workforce – with many more working in public health and academic medicine. Recruiting from Europe has been vital in dealing with staff shortages in health services, ensuring the NHS can provide high-quality, reliable and safe patient care.

A BMA survey of 1,720 European doctors working in the UK, found that:

  • Almost half (45%) are considering leaving the UK following the referendum vote, with another 29% saying they are unsure about whether they will leave;
  • Of those considering leaving, more than a third (39%) have made plans to leave, meaning almost one in five doctors (18%) have made plans to leave the UK;
  • The top three reasons cited for considering leaving were the UK’s decision to leave the EU, a current negative attitude toward EU workers in the UK and continuing uncertainty over future immigration rules.

Since the referendum, the BMA has been calling on the government to ensure it protects the long-term stability of health services after it leaves the EU. Of particular importance is the need for a future immigration system that is sufficiently flexible, protects EU doctors already working in the UK and enables overseas doctors to work in the UK in the future.

Dr Andrew Dearden, BMA treasurer, said: “That so many EU doctors are actively planning to leave the UK is a cause for real concern. Many have dedicated years of service to the NHS and medical research in the UK, and without them our health service would not be able to cope.

“We need clarity on what the future holds for EU citizens and their families living in the UK, and an end to the uncertainty and insecurity that could see many voting with their feet.”Mutual recognition of professional qualifications and measures which protect patient safety;

The BMA is also concerned that there must be mutual recognition of professional qualifications and measures which protect patient safety going forward.

Dr Marco Nardini is a thoracic surgery trainee from Italy who moved back in August 2017 after spending almost two years in the UK.

He said: “My decision to leave was not solely because of Brexit, but it was definitely a key factor.

“One of my main concerns was around whether my qualifications would continue to be recognised abroad and in the UK. There’s so much uncertainty at the moment – moving back to Italy and completing my training here seemed like the safer option rather than chasing a title from England which may not be recognised in the EU.”

The government must also ensure ongoing access to EU research programmes and research funding, the BMA says.

RCP president, Professor Jane Dacre, said: “International doctors play a vital role in the delivery of healthcare in the UK and are valued members of the workforce. Whilst we welcome the positive statements which have been made, we feel that government should provide guarantees that the UK is able to recruit and retain international doctors in the future.”

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