The Scottish Parliament Health and Sport Committee recently undertook an inquiry into the impact of leaving the European Union on health and social care in Scotland.

The Committee examined a range of different topics, including the impact on people, the impact on professionals, research and clinical trials, and medicines and devices. In its first evidence session, the Committee heard from the GMC, Health Protection Scotland, and the BMA about the risks of Brexit; the mutual recognition scheme; the impact of Brexit on doctors from the EU working in the UK; medical student numbers; the legal status of foreign doctors and consultations; and the UK practices programme and working time regulations.

The College notes amongst other issues, evidence given by the panel indicating that the Brexit process has been “immensely disruptive and disturbing to European doctors”. In addition, the College shares the particular concern that a while substantial number of European doctors remain in the UK currently, at least a third of them are considering leaving. Many European doctors feel that their efforts to keep the NHS operating are under appreciated, according to panel.

The Committee also heard from Health Secretary, Shona Robison MSP, in its third evidence session on 20 March. Ms Robison stated that EU citizens are vital to the health service, and that the Scottish Government would like them to remain in Scotland.

President of the College, Professor Derek Bell OBE, said:

“Given the uncertainty surrounding Brexit on a vast number of issues, including the future of health and social care, I very much welcome the Health and Sport Committee’s inquiry. It’s encouraging to see such a high level of evidence from experts and key stakeholders on this vital topic.

“Whilst the indication is that the vast majority of European doctors have remained in the UK after the Brexit vote in 2016, the College shares the concern that up to a third are considering leaving. Uncertainty around the legal status of foreign doctors and consultants may be a contributing factor in that regard, and the College wants to see greater clarity from the UK Government on this as it’s important to future workforce planning.

“European doctors contribute a great deal to our NHS, and they must feel assured that they can continue to train and practice in the UK, without the looming fear of restrictions on their legal right to work.”

Paul Gillen

Contact: Paul Gillen 0131 247 3658