Scotland's GPs warn of Brexit doctor deficit as European staff face the axe

GPs urge security for EU colleagues as doctor deficit set to worsen

THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF GENERAL PRACTITIONERS SCOTLAND (RCGPS) has warned that Brexit risks deepening the deficit of doctors in Scotland’s NHS, due to EU trained GPs status not being secured by the Westminister Government.

Today (Wednesday 10 April) the group demanded that action be taken to safeguard EU nationals who work as GPs and NHS staff in Scotland and the wider UK.

Two hunderd and twenty six of Scotland’s GPs qualified in their primary degree from a European Economic Area (EEA) country, which encompasses the EU and nations within the EU single market grouping.

RCGPS claimed that the loss of these GPs could potentially jeopardise patient safety.

“It is one in twenty-five of Scotland’s GPs. It could negatively affect over 226,000 patients in Scotland.” Dr Miles Mack

Dr Miles Mack, chair of the RCGPS, said: “There is already a projected deficit of 828 whole-time equivalent GPs in Scotland, by 2021. Promoting core values, our manifesto for the coming General Election, calls for governments to facilitate the delivery of sufficient numbers of GPs to overcome it.

“To learn that Scotland could face the loss of an additional 4 per cent of its already stretched GP workforce is extremely worrying. It is one in twenty-five of Scotland’s GPs. It could negatively affect over 226,000 patients in Scotland. We are calling for governments to safeguard the GP workforce during international negotiations by guaranteeing the status of healthcare professionals already working in Scotland and the UK.  

“We have commented on the need to act immediately to halt that long-term pattern. We are now faced with a possible removal of a further 146 GPs who, as nationals of other EU member states, might be lost to the workforce if their status is not protected. Again, we must call for immediate action to prevent that clear harm to the health service.

“A Tory hard Brexit will undermine healthcare in many ways but the continuing uncertainty for EU nationals, over their future, is totally unacceptable and the loss of such colleagues would create workforce problems right across the NHS in Scotland.” Dr Philippa Whitford

“Both Westminster and Holyrood could hurry to take action now which would ease the situation. The full £500 million promised to ‘GPs and health centres’ by the First Minister in October could be clearly outlined for the GP service, to show medical students a career with a bright future.”

Mack also emphasised the importance of ensuring that healthcare professionals from the EU and other countries could move to with ease, criticising the UK Government’s immigration arrangements which mean GPs are not on the shortage occupation list which provides an easing of visa applications.

However, the GP body did state that Brexit was exaggerating an existing shortage in Scotland, with last June’s publication of the 2015 Primary Care Workforce Survey showing that the number of permanent GPs had fallen by 90 since 2013 from 3,735 to 3,645.

“We are now faced with a possible removal of a further 146 GPs who, as nationals of other EU member states, might be lost to the workforce if their status is not protected.” Dr Miles Mack

Dr Philippa Whitford, the SNP’s Westminster health spokesperson and candidate in Ayrshire Central told CommonSpace: '”This warning – from the GPs’ own organisation – shows how serious the threat to Scotland’s NHS is from Theresa May’s reckless hard Brexit plans.

“A Tory hard Brexit will undermine healthcare in many ways but the continuing uncertainty for EU nationals, over their future, is totally unacceptable and the loss of such colleagues would create workforce problems right across the NHS in Scotland.

''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. The SNP Scottish Government has made it clear that their right to live and work in this country must be protected.”

UK Government ministers have claimed Brexit will enhance the UK’s economic and social position in the world.

Picture courtesy of YouTube

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