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PM indicates overseas trained doctors can stay in UK post Brexit

Doctors welcome plans to keep overseas doctors in UK

Adrian O'Dowd

Monday, 25 September 2017

The government has given new indications that it plans to allow overseas trained doctors working in the UK the right to keep working here after the UK leaves the European Union (EU). 

In a speech by Theresa May given in Florence, Italy, at the weekend, the prime minister said that Britain’s negotiating position over Brexit talks would include full intentions for EU citizens currently living and working in the UK to be able to continue doing so if they wanted. 

Ms May said: “I want to repeat to the 600,000 Italians in the UK – and indeed to all EU citizens who have made their lives in our country – that we want you to stay; we value you; and we thank you for your contribution to our national life – and it has been, and remains, one of my first goals in this negotiation to ensure that you can carry on living your lives as before. 

“I am clear that the guarantee I am giving on your rights is real. But I know there are concerns that over time the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens overseas will diverge. I want to incorporate our agreement fully into UK law and make sure the UK courts can refer directly to it.” 

Responding to the speech, Dr Andrew Dearden, BMA treasurer, said: “It is a step in the right direction that the prime minister has made positive indications that EU citizens’ rights to remain in the UK would be part of the British negotiating position and there was an acknowledgment of the importance of discussing a ‘soft border’ approach between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. 

“Overseas doctors have made an outstanding contribution to the NHS over the course of many decades. It is important we continue to have a flexible immigration system that allows the NHS to recruit doctors from the EU, especially to areas of medicine and parts of the UK, with significant staff shortages, such as emergency medicine and general practice. Doctors working in the UK must have a right to remain, with their families, after Brexit.” 

On the issue of a “soft border” approach, he added, Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic did not have sufficient demand separately to provide cost-effective, highly specialist medical services, such as the all-island children’s cardiac service. 

“Together, however, pooling resources and allowing unrestricted movement ensures populations on both sides of the border benefit from high standard medical care when it is needed: it is vital this arrangement is maintained,” he said. 

Nevertheless, there was still an unhelpful level of uncertainty about the details behind the prime minister’s words, he warned, saying: “There is still no clarity on how freedom of movement will operate after the UK’s agreement with the EU comes to an end on this matter. 

“The proposed registration system for new arrivals must not add an unnecessary administrative burden on the NHS or deter doctors from coming to work in the UK. Similarly, it remains unclear what the specifics will be of the Northern Ireland and Irish Republic arrangement or the future of research collaboration between the UK and the EU.”

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