Brexit threat to GP numbers, warns RCGP

Written by Tom Freeman on 10 May 2017 in News

Amid an existing workforce shortage, 226 further GPs at risk as a result of Brexit, warns top doctor

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Doctor - PA

GPs trained in other European countries could be lost to the workforce as a result of Brexit, the Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (Scotland) has warned.

Dr Miles Mack said 226 of Scotland’s GPs took their primary degree from a European Economic Area (EEA) country, adding their loss would add to an already strained profession.

There is already a projected deficit of 828 whole-time equivalent GPs in Scotland by 2021.


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Mack is today launching the RCGP general election manifesto which calls for the deficit to be addressed and funding gaps to be plugged.

“It must be made as easy as possible for doctors from the EU and other countries to move to the UK and work here,” he said.

“Inexplicably, GPs are not yet on the Shortage Occupation List and placing the profession there as a matter of urgency will ease visa applications for those who do want to come and serve our patients.

“The Scottish National GPs Performers List should be implemented as soon as possible and bureaucracy reduced to allow free movement of GPs throughout the four nations.”

SNP Westminster health spokesperson Dr Philippa Whitford said the figures showed the damaging effect of a ‘hard Brexit’.

''Doctors, nurses and care workers from many EU countries are vital to the functioning of hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes and yet, a full 11 months after the referendum, they are still  being treated as 'bargaining chips' by the Tories,” she said.

Scottish Labour's health spokesperson Anas Sarwar MSP said the crisis in GP numbers started before Brexit, and came from SNP cuts to primary care.

“A hard Tory Brexit will not help, but four times as many doctors and nurses come from other parts of the UK to work in Scotland's NHS compared to those that come from the rest of the EU,” he said.

“That's why we should be guaranteeing that those from the EU already working here can stay.

“But we would go further and call for a special arrangement for NHS staff so we can continue to attract health care professionals to come and work here and make Scotland their home.”

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