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The results indicate that the view that Brexit may help save the NHS by pumping £350 million an extra a week into it are fading ever deeper into the reality that a Tory-led Brexit will further decimate the most beloved public institution in the country.
The survey shows that as many as 5,400 of the 12,000 EEA doctors currently working in the NHS may quit and leave the country as a direct result of Brexit.
For the survey, the BMA interviewed a sample of 1,720 medics: providing a sound estimate with which to make these predictions more broadly.
Speaking about these extremely worrying findings, BMA treasurer, and former General Practitioners Committee (GPC) negotiator, Dr Andrew Dearden 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.
Dr Dearden also called on the Tories to ensure that this potential disaster doesn’t happen, adding:
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.
It’s 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. Our NHS and patient care are all the richer for having a diverse workforce – it’s crucial we don’t lose valuable experience and expertise because of Brexit.
Since 2013 data obtained by the BMA showed that applications to medical schools have fallen by an alarming 13%. Regarding this disturbing trend, the BMA said that it is:
difficult to see how the government’s target to recruit an extra 5,000 GPs by 2020 could realistically be achieved.
And Brexit may have already impacted NHS staffing numbers. In June it was reported that there had been a 96% drop in EU Nurses registering in Britain following the Brexit vote – compounding the fact that there are 30,000 fewer nurses than we need in the NHS already.
Speaking about the BMA survey findings, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary John Ashworth said:
Theresa May must urgently safeguard the future of EU workers and stop treating them as bargaining chips in her reckless Brexit negotiations. Failure to do so seriously risks increasing staff shortages and exacerbating the already dire crisis in our health and care system.
Ashworth’s words, of course, echo those of Jeremy Corbyn who also specifically warned about a possible mass NHS staff exodus before the referendum.
Of course, staff leaving the NHS because of Brexit will be no real concern to the Tories – they will inevitably use the impending Doctor shortage to further manufacture their callous drive towards full privatisation.
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