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Brexit: put patients first, say doctors

Union Jack and EU flag being ripped apart

Doctors have appealed to both sides of the ongoing Brexit negotiations to put politics aside to protect patients’ health following the UK’s exit from the EU.

Medical representatives from across Europe came together to outline the serious repercussions of the UK leaving without arrangements in place to protect medicine and healthcare, one month ahead of the UK’s scheduled exit from the EU.

The BMA was among more than half a dozen European medical organisations, along with the CPME (standing committee of European doctors), at the event which took place at the European Parliament on 27 February.

The event heard how medicine was one of the most mobile professions in Europe in part thanks to mutual recognition of professional qualifications, and how this mobility had benefited the UK and Europe through the exchange of knowledge and mutual learning.

The CPME warned that finding ways of maintaining cooperation post-Brexit was essential to safeguarding the continent against infectious-disease outbreaks and cross-border health issues.


Lives ruined

The event also saw the BMA highlight the personal effect Brexit was having, by showcasing the stories of a number of EU doctors working in the NHS whose lives had been thrown into uncertainty over the past two-and-a-half years.

Spanish dermatologist Julio Bassas-Vila, who works in Spain and also undertakes locum work in the UK, spoke of how having the opportunity to work in two countries had vastly improved his own professional knowledge and career opportunities.

He added that Brexit had made him feel less welcome in the UK and that the Government needed to work fast to ensure that the NHS was able to continue to attract and retain doctors from the EU.

The issue of medical mobility and the unique and vital role that this plays on the island of Ireland was emphasised by GP Dennis McCauley from the Irish Medical Organisation. He graduated in the Republic of Ireland and now works at a surgery in County Donegal in the Irish border area.

He said that freedom of movement across the border allowing patients from north and south to be treated in either country had helped to save lives and enabled some hospitals to become economically viable.

Find out more about the BMA’s work on Brexit

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