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I qualified as a doctor in Italy in 1982 but felt I wanted to gain some experience in a different healthcare system. In January 1985, I moved to the UK with my then Italian girlfriend who is now my wife. My first proper job was in Stockport as a pathology SHO, whilst my wife started a paid PhD in electronic engineering at the University of Manchester.
I would not have come to work here if the UK had not been part of the EU. The recognition of my medical qualifications and the fact that no work permit was required, for both myself and my girlfriend, were important factors in our decision. Perhaps more importantly, I did not feel I was a migrant.
At the time, I was an EU citizen moving into a fellow EU country under freedom of movement. I then worked as a microbiology registrar in Oxford and as a senior registrar in London. In 1996 I took on a microbiology consultant post in Sunderland, where I have worked since.
By this stage it was apparent we would not go back to Italy, so both myself and my wife acquired British nationality in order to have the full right to vote and to feel full members of British society.
All four of us, including our two sons, have dual British and Italian nationality. I define myself as a British Italian and have now spent more than half of my life in England.
After the Brexit vote in June 2016 I was gutted. I felt as if I had been personally rejected from my adoptive country. Had I made the wrong choice when I moved to the UK in 1985? Two German colleagues of mine, both consultants in my hospital, left in 2017 to go and live in France. This is not really an option for me as I am close to retirement and my two sons have grown up and work here. Although I am sure had this happened some years ago then this may have been different.
Initially, I did not quite understand why Brexit had happened. When I moved into the UK, I did not feel the local culture was very different from my culture; maybe my lasagne recipe is slightly different, but the fundamental values and professional standards are the same.
It is discouraging to think that maybe I was wrong about this. Perhaps all this time myself and others like me were perceived as EU migrants and ultimately, as a problem. I personally think we all have to do our bit to improve society. As a result of Brexit, I have now joined a political party and have started campaigning for a People's Vote.
I am retiring next year but I am going to carry on doing things with others, hoping to achieve a greater good. I find all of this helps with morale. Despite what our Prime Minister recently said, I do not think I jumped any queue in 1985.
Dr Giuseppe Enrico Bignardi is a microbiology consultant working in Sunderland.
Thanks for your story. I am from Spain, Haematology Consultant and now I have a strange feeling to stay here or not. Dr. Sonia Garcia
Thank you. The British are deeply tolerant but you are never truly accepted.
Colleagues from mainland Europe have enriched, and greatly contributed to the NHS; professionalism transcends national boundaries. But the bien pensant liberal left is more concerned with being seen to be right thinking than worrying about the consequences of their actions. The UK has admitted 3,000,000 migrants of one sort and another in the past decade. Some such as Guiseppe have contributed massively. But for how long can the UK and Europe, too, sustain an open door for all who want to share, and a few subvert, its benefits, however dire their circumstances, or worthy their intentions? And where are the schools, houses and hospitals for them, and our own young people? And how are they to be paid for? A better statesmen than David Cameron would have convinced the EU that whilst managed migration is hugely beneficial to the UK and the EU , there has to be a limit. Sadly in attempting to bring some order out of the chaos initiated by Tony Blair, we risk losing the very people we both want, and need.
The EU medical equivalence legislation was enacted in 1995 so had no bearing on a decision to move to the UK having qualified in medicine in another EU country in 1985!
Reciprocity of specialist training and registration across the EU has been criticised and indeed in my own specialist area of anaesthesia I have perused CVs which fall short when pitched against UK based training programs.
The attraction of the UK to overseas medical graduates is multi factorial but includes English speaking, the language of science; world ranking universities; excellent specialty training programs; competitive salaries, though I think Holland has the best salaries in medicine.
Even as a Scot living in England for 16 years I still feel just that little bit different and never quite one of the gang.
Thanks a lot, Giuseppe. I don't know why, this great country that I love, and I admire a lot, chose such an unpleasant decision. For sure they have their reasons but I hope that was not because of the EU immigrants. As someone already said the British are deeply tolerant, but you are never entirely accepted!
Thank you for your story. I'm an Italian 4th year Medical Student in the UK. My biggest worry at the moment is the uncertainty of what Brexit will bring for us European students studying in the UK... Will my degree be recognised in my home country once I'll graduate from a UK University? Will we become international students applying for our F1 jobs? Who knows.
I sympathise with you. I too would like another Referendum or 'Peoples Vote'. I am a native Scotsman but I have lived in the south of England for 35 years and practised there as a GP until I retired. I qualified in Scotland and I identify as Scottish, British (but not English) and European. Scottish people had more sense about the EU than English people, although I am not a Scottish Nationalist. A good friend of mine in similar circumstances to mine is so disgusted at Brexit that he is applying for Irish citizenship because he had an Irish grandmother. He is not really Irish at all; he is at least as Scottish as I am. I am a long-term NHS patient and I have seen a Consultant of Spanish origin when when my usual Consultant was away. It would be a great shame if we had to lose him from the Department and I think he must feel as you do about Brexit. I hope you can stay in Sunderland and not feel displaced.
Nothing in this "propaganda story" actually has anything at all to do with Brexit, and for Dr Bignardi's information, we have already had the "People's Vote". At no time has Brexit ever posed a threat to people living here legally from other EU countries, and Dr Bignardi's contrived whingeing is therefore entirely bogus. I suggest that if Dr Bignardi does not recognise or respect UK democracy, then he should leave rather than staying here and trying to subvert it.
Many thanks for your opinion.I am a consultant child psychiatrist from Spain who has worked in U.K. For 21 years.I do not feel longer wanted neither my patients (some of them) have been nice to me.Hostility towards European NHS staff has raised dramatically and I am quitting.I just put my resignation and I will return to Spain.
'Anonymous' who states that Brexit has never posed a threat to legal migrants from the EU needs to do some more research. In the case of a 'no deal' Brexit there are no guarantees as to what will happen despite earlier promises that it wouldn't matter.
Having trained in Germany and having spent over 20 years in general medicine and palliative care I joined the NHS in November 2014 as a consultant in acute medicine and palliative care after my British husband of 34 years started a career in the UK and together with our son we relocated from Germany to the UK. I felt well supported and accepted by all staff groups. I have been given ample opportunity to develop my career. I haven’t experienced any animosity. However I found there is very little interest in the NHS to learn from other health systems.
I was gutted by the referendum result in June 2016. But I respect the decision and hope Britain finds a way to reunite the deeply divided society. Not sure another referendum is the answer. The different groups should consider accepting compromise to be able to move forward.
I have put my name down for the pilot for the EU Settlement Scheme although I can’t complete the application form as I don’t have an android phone!
I’m watchful at the moment but I don’t feel I have to go back to Germany.
As far as some of the comments below are concerned I find the tone unnecessarily aggressive.
I am a British consultant but my wife is Danish and a chief pharmacist. She wants to remain Danish. She had gone for settled status and like another comment did not have an Android phone so I bought a used one from Amazon to download the EU Exit app and it worked perfectly well.
My wife like others feels a little unwelcome in the UK now and yet has spent most of her adult life here, paying tax and contributing to UK society, so she too, was upset at the result.
I recall in my last trust that shortly after the referendum a German consultant colleague had a personal photograph in her office defaced with a Hitler moustache which disgusted me and I reported to the chief executive but it demonstrated that this whole exercise has unleashed hidden xenophobia in certain quarters. However I feel that most of my NHS colleagues welcome EU staff who make a huge contribution to the NHS and whom we simply cannot afford to lose.
I believe the government has demonstrated its commitment to EU NHS staff by unilaterally agreeing that EU citizens will get settled status irrespective of how the UK departs the EU.
If your life is at stake because of leucaemia the BREXIT is such a minor issue.
Unfortunately we have to deal with both plus a newborn baby and I really dont know how to survive this.
I am a consultant gynaecologist with a PhD who had to leave Germany because the great British government requested me to be present in the UK for the European spouse visa.
There are a lot of hypocrits in England and for a long time I have been wanting to leave...
And now the leucaemia makes it impossible... but Brexiteers don’t want Europeans in England...