About 12,000 doctors trained in European countries could quit the UK because they feel less welcome following the Brexit vote, according to a survey of overseas medics.
About two in five doctors who qualified in European Economic Area countries are considering leaving the UK in light of the referendum result, research by the British Medical Association reveals.
The findings prompted alarm about an impending “disaster” in medical staffing and fears that an exodus of EEA doctors could exacerbate already significant personnel shortages in NHS hospitals.
The BMA’s findings are based on a survey it undertook of 1,193 EEA doctors working in the UK. When asked if they were thinking about leaving the UK following last year’s referendum vote, 500 (42%) said yes, 309 (26%) said no, 278 (23%) were unsure, while the other 106 did not answer.
“These are the people who staff our hospitals and GP surgeries, look after vulnerable patients in the community, and conduct vital medical research to help save lives. Many have dedicated years of service to healthcare in the UK, so it’s extremely concerning that so many are considering leaving,” said Dr Mark Porter, the BMA’s council chair.
“At a time when the NHS is already at breaking point and facing crippling staff shortages, this would be a disaster and threaten the delivery of high-quality patient care. But this isn’t just about numbers. The quality of patient care is improved where doctors have diverse experiences and expertise,” he added.
The EEA includes the 28 members of the European Union plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.