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BMA briefing: Northern Ireland

The challenges facing doctors and health services ahead of Brexit are considerable but have the potential to be felt even more profoundly in Northern Ireland, which shares a land border with another EU country.


Key points

  • The existing open border arrangement between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland enables healthcare professionals based on both sides of the land border to travel freely to provide healthcare to their patients.
  • Freedom of movement and the mutual recognition of professional qualifications (MRPQ) has enabled many health and social care professionals from countries within the EU, but especially those from the Republic of Ireland, to practice in Northern Ireland.
  • Northern Ireland has the highest percentage of doctors who gained their primary medical qualification in another EU country (nearly 9 percent). The majority of these doctors received their qualification in the Republic of Ireland.
  • The UK Government and EU negotiators should make every effort to ensure freedom of movement and/or recognition of qualifications for those doctors who qualified or live in the Republic of Ireland, and who now work in Northern Ireland, is secured as part of the Brexit negotiations. This is vital for the future staffing of the health services in Northern Ireland.
  • Cross-border service arrangements have been established and are currently providing high quality, safe care for patients, in a range of areas including primary care, cancer services, and paediatric cardiac surgery. These vital health services must not be destabilized during, or after, the Brexit process.


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Brexit briefing: Northern Ireland

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For further information on this briefing, please contact Susan Bahl, Brexit lead:


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