One in five European NHS doctors ‘planning to leave UK,’ poll reveals

Written by Liz Bates on 14 November 2017 in News

A survey by the BMA has found that almost half the doctors from the EU are considering leaving Britain

Doctor - Image credit: Fotolia

Almost one in five European doctors working in the NHS are planning to leave the UK, according to new research. 

The study, carried out by the British Medical Association, also found that almost half of the health service’s 12,000 medics from the European Economic Area were considering moving abroad.

The findings have sparked fears of a Brexit 'brain-drain' among vital medical staff.


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The worrying survey follows NHS figures in September which showed that more than 10,000 doctors, nurses and other staff from EU countries had left the UK since the Brexit referendum.

Almost half of respondents to the BMA poll said they were considering leaving UK following the result of the Brexit, while a further 29 per cent could not say yet whether they would go. 

Of those considering going elsewhere 18 per cent said they already made plans to leave.

The NHS’s 12,000 doctors from the EEA (the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) represent 7.7 per cent of the service’s medical workforce.

BMA treasurer Dr Andrew Dearden said: “That so many EU doctors are actively planning to leave the UK is a cause for real concern.

“Many have dedicated years of service to the NHS and medical research in the UK, and without them our health service would not be able to cope.”

Pro-EU Labour MP Darren Jones added: “The British people were told last year that Brexit would boost the NHS by £350m a week.

“Now the evidence is piling up that it will break it instead.

“We all depend on the brilliant work done by doctors, nurses and other staff who come from the EU.

“There is no chance that we could replace their expertise if they continue to leave the UK.”

However a spokesman for the UK Department of Health questioned the findings, saying: “This survey does not stand up to scrutiny.

“In fact, there are actually more EU doctors working in the NHS since the EU referendum, more EU graduates joining the UK medical register and 3,193 more EU nationals working in the NHS overall.” 

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