Brexit and the Medical Profession
The UK’s decision to leave the EU will have profound implications for the medical profession and may result in significant changes to the issues covered on this page. The BMA is working with partners at UK and European level to mitigate the challenges, and maximise the opportunities, to its members as a result of Brexit.
Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications
The BMA fully supports freedom of movement for doctors who wish to pursue their careers in other countries, but insists that patient safety is paramount and must not be compromised.
We believe that all doctors, whether they are from the European Economic Area (EEA) or elsewhere, must have an acceptable command of English and acceptable clinical skills if they wish to practise in the UK.
The recently amended EU Professional Qualifications Directive recognises our concerns and makes several provisions to secure patient safety, including the language testing of doctors.
Following consultations (BMA responses available below) on proposed changes to the Medical Act 1983 and to the regulatory framework, the government has committed to further strengthen the safeguards that are already in place to make sure all licensed doctors have the necessary knowledge of English to practise safely in the UK.
Previously, only doctors who qualified outside of the EEA were required to provide evidence to the GMC of their English language skills before they could practice in the UK.
Under the new proposals, the GMC could refuse an application for a licence to practise medicine in the UK if there were concerns about any doctor's English language skills, whether that doctor was from within the EEA or otherwise.
The updated Professional Qualifications Directive also provides for the development of a pan-European alert mechanism. If a doctor, due to a disciplinary action or criminal conviction, is temporarily or permanently restricted or prohibited from their right to practice in another member state, all member states will be alerted to this within three days of the restriction being imposed.
The BMA welcomes these proposals and will be working with the European Commission, the UK government and other stakeholders to ensure that they secure patient safety whilst facilitating professional mobility.
Read the BMA guidance on language testing of European Economic Area (EEA) doctors
European Working Time Directive
We are satisfied with the EWTD as it stands and believe it protects doctors from the dangers of overwork whilst protecting patients from overtired doctors.
Find out about our work on the European Working Time Directive