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BMA steps up call for second referendum

EU referendum
european flags in wind

The BMA has called on the Government to put the final decision on Brexit to a public vote, following the announcement of a revised withdrawal agreement.

The association has maintained its call for a second referendum on whether the UK should leave the EU, after the UK and EU unveiled an amended exit deal yesterday.

Under the terms of the withdrawal agreement finalised this week, there would be a continuation of the mutual recognition of professional qualifications meaning that EEA European Economic Area doctors would be able to practise in the UK and vice-versa.

The deal would also allow for the UK’s continued participation in the EU’s internal market information alert system which protects patient safety by enabling medical regulators across Europe to communicate concerns with a doctor's fitness to practise.

These policies will carry on temporarily and if the withdrawal agreement is adopted, the BMA will work with its European partners to ensure their continuation in any future relationship.

The withdrawal agreement would also avoid customs checks and a hard border on the island of Ireland, meaning that cross-border health services between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would be able to continue unimpeded.


Committed to remain

BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul said that, while the threat of a no-deal Brexit remained the biggest risk to the NHS, any form of Brexit would be detrimental to medicine and healthcare.

He said: ‘The BMA has long stated that the prospect of leaving the EU without a deal would be singularly catastrophic for patients, doctors and our NHS, and as such we cautiously support the fact that the UK and EU have managed to reach an agreement that would, at the very least, avoid this outcome.

‘As an association, however, we have not shifted from our position that leaving the EU in any form will be to the detriment of our health service.

‘At our annual representative meeting in 2018, doctors voted overwhelmingly to oppose Brexit, and also that the public should have the chance to have a final say on whether or not we leave the EU through a second referendum.’

MPs are set to vote on the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement tomorrow, while the European Parliament is expected to vote on the deal next Wednesday.

More information on what Brexit might mean for healthcare

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