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Post-Brexit immigration uncertainty “deeply concerning” for NHS, warn Scottish doctors

Dr Peter Bennie - BMA

Post-Brexit immigration uncertainty “deeply concerning” for NHS, warn Scottish doctors

Doctors in Scotland has slammed a lack of progress in plans for an immigration system after Brexit, warning clinicians from the EU currently in the UK have no incentive to stay.

Dr Peter Bennie, chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) in Scotland, is attending a European medical summit in Brussels and will discuss the issue with MEPs.

There are over 1,000 EU registered doctors currently practicing in Scotland.

The UK Government has said Brexit will allow the UK to have a bespoke immigration policy that will allow skilled workers to remain, but has failed to provide details amid deep rifts in the Conservative party.

Ahead of his European trip, Bennie said the fact there had been “virtually no progress” was “deeply concerning”.

“At a time when our workforce is already stretched to its limits, it is unthinkable that we could simply stand by and lose this important supply line of doctors for our hospitals and communities,” he said.

 “But it is not just a numbers game. The free exchange of ideas and experiences that doctors pick up from working in different health systems, and that European doctors bring to Scotland, benefits them as professionals, their colleagues and the patients they care for. That is why I am joining fellow doctors in Brussels today to highlight this issue.”

Dr Thomas Robertson, a German doctor working in Dundee since 2016, said European colleagues could reconsider whether they want to continue living in the UK due to uncertainty from the Home Office.

“The main problem with Brexit is that the support that has been expressed by employers, the BMA and the Scottish government is very welcome, but in the end it is in Westminster where the crucial decisions are made,” he said.

“As it stands, the apparent inability of the British government to develop a feasible proposal for Brexit and the future of the medical profession is worrying.

 “Another issue that is often forgotten is the doubt over continued recognition of British qualifications in the EU. Not being allowed to stay in the UK and not being allowed to work as a professional in the EU is a possible and potentially disastrous scenario for many who trained in the NHS.”

On Monday UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove claimed Britain was “one of the countries with the warmest attitudes to migration in the world” and that Brexit had made the UK "more welcoming to new arrivals".

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