Responding to Theresa May's speech on Brexit, Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said:
“At a time when the NHS is struggling to cope with mounting pressures and significant staff shortages, the prime minister must deliver on her promise to guarantee the rights of EU nationals in Britain, and Britons living in Europe, as soon as possible. There are more than 10,000 doctors from the European Economic Area working in the NHS, so it is vital for the stability of the NHS and the future of medical research, that the government removes the ongoing uncertainty and grants them permanent residence.
“While the prime minister pledged to retain the UK’s openness to international talent, she also stated that the number of people coming to the UK to work would be capped. We have already seen that the stricter restrictions for non-EU workers left such severe nursing shortages that nursing had to be added to the list of occupations exempt from the cap. Any further limits on the number of doctors able to work in the UK will only serve to worsen staff shortages seen across the NHS. The immigration system must remain flexible enough to recruit doctors from overseas, especially where the UK workforce is unable to fill vacant roles.
“Over the past few weeks, we have seen doctors and NHS staff going above and beyond to cope with the pressures facing the NHS, often working hours over shift to help provide care for patients. As pressures continue to grow, it is vital that the current EU regulations which protect doctors from overwork, and protect patients from overtired doctors, are preserved and not repealed or limited in any way for new workers.” ENDS
Notes to editor:
The British Medical Association (BMA) is the voice of doctors and medical students in the UK. It is an apolitical professional organisation and independent trade union, representing doctors and medical students from all branches of medicine across the UK and supporting them to deliver the highest standards of care.