European Union of Private Hospitals

Brexit: the great escape of European physicians from the United Kingdom

Brexit or the great escape of European physicians. The upcoming Brexit (the date in which Great Britain will leave the European Union), and the total uncertainty on what will be the rules to be followed afterwards, are bringing to a real exodus of qualified personnel from the National Healthcare System (NHS).

According to a survey of the British Medical Association, 45% of European physicians working for the British NHS are thinking about leaving the country, while 18% have already found another job elsewhere. 62.000 EU citizens work in England for the NHS Ues and over 6.000 of these are Italian.

The “Brexit effect” is already there: according to the data of the General Medical Council, last year the number of EU physicians coming to England dropped down to 3.458, a 9% decrease to the minimum from eight years. This situation is already creating problems for the NHS, which is experiencing a financial crisis and a overload of work because of the extension of life expectancy and the increase of chronic medical conditions. The main reason for the exodus of European physicians is basically linked to the impossibility to plan their life on the long term and be sure they could have a stable working future in Great Britain. Despite the preliminary agreement between London and Brussels signed last December, there are still different question marks on the rights of the EU citizens resident in the United Kingdom and their rights after Brexit.

“The referendum on Brexit has been well over 18 months ago, yet too questions keep on not having an answer”, said Andrew Dearden, treasurer of the British Medical Association. Despite the attempts of the Government to reassure the residents, uncertainty prevails, especially in light of the continuous tensions between London and Brussels that could result in a missed accord, a scenery known as “hard Brexit.”
“The Government must keep on giving guarantees that EU physicians will always be welcome and that their contribution to the NHS will be appreciated”, said Jane Dacre, President of the Royal College of Physicians. “It is crucial that the British NHS can continue hiring professionals in a system that is currently suffering from shortage of stuff”.

The shortage of stuff does not concern only the physicians, but also the nurses: the NHS is missing 40.000 nurses and the number of applications of employment of EU citizens willing to work in the UK has collapsed of 96% in 2017. Paradoxically, Brexit would have had to be the beginning of the raising of the NHSThe Minister of Foreign Affairs, Boris Johnson, one of the greatest supporters of Brexit, declared during his electoral campaign that 350 milliosn of pounds that Great Britain gives to the European Union would have been spent for the NHS after Brexit.

This statement had been criticized by the Uk Statistics Authority because it was “intentionally misleading”, since it referred only to the gross amount that London gives to Brussels without taking into account the amount that the EU gives back to Great Britain. Boris Johnson has recently repeated his promise to put more money into the NHS after Brexit, but the Government did not ever commit to that.