The NHS faces a potential work force time bomb, after a BMA survey revealed four in 10 EU doctors are considering leaving the UK post Brexit.
A survey of 1,193 EEA (European Economic Area) doctors found that 42 per cent are contemplating moving to other countries, with a further 23 per cent admitting they are unsure whether they will remain in the UK.
The number of EU doctors who felt significantly committed to working in the UK also dropped from nine in 10 before the referendum to just four in 10 following it.
While EU doctors continue to feel highly appreciated by their patients, the number who felt significantly appreciated by the Government has plummeted from seven in 10 before the referendum to less than four in 10 since the vote.
BMA council chair Mark Porter has warned that retaining EU medical staff is essential to ensuring safe and sustainable provision of care in the UK, in the wake of alarming findings concerning the morale of European doctors.
He said: ‘While thousands of overseas and EU doctors work across the UK to provide the best possible care for patients, many from the EU are left feeling unwelcome and uncertain about whether they and their families will have the right to live and work in the UK after Brexit.
‘The Government must act now to ensure long-term stability across the healthcare system by providing certainty to medical professionals from the EU about their future in the UK.
'It must also ensure that a future immigration system allows the NHS to continue employing EU and overseas doctors to fill staff shortages in the health service.’
The BMA’s findings come in the same week that health leaders warned MPs that Brexit was having an impact on the morale and outlook of some EU staff working across the UK’s health and social care sectors.
BMA Scottish council chair Peter Bennie said the report should set alarm bells ringing in Westminster and prompt ministers to take urgent action.
He said: ‘The refusal of the Westminster Government to guarantee their right to continue contributing to our health service is understandably causing a significant number of European doctors to consider leaving the UK, regardless of what future agreement is reached.
‘These are our colleagues and our friends and the ongoing uncertainty they face is deeply damaging. Together, we staff Scotland's hospitals and GP surgeries, look after vulnerable patients in the community, and conduct vital medical research to help save lives.
‘We should be in no doubt that the scale of the recruitment and retention difficulties that Scotland’s NHS is facing would be made exponentially worse without the contribution of European doctors.'
Find out more about the BMA’s survey
Read the BMA's guidance on Brexit
Find out how to apply for permanant residency
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