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BMA tells Brexit negotiators to prioritise health

It calls on politicians to 'end uncertainty' for thousands of doctors and patients

Mark Gould

Thursday, 29 March 2018

With just 12 months to go until Britain leaves the EU, the BMA is urging negotiators on both sides to prioritise healthcare in the final Brexit deal and end uncertainty for thousands of patients and doctors in the UK and across Europe.

The BMA has also produced a briefing paper and checklist on its key Brexit concerns ahead of today’s House of Lords debate on the ‘Effect of EU withdrawal on health and welfare of UK citizens and residents’.

The briefing paper and checklist outline guarantees it is seeking in a number of healthcare areas. The BMA believes these are needed to ensure that Brexit doesn’t have a negative effect on patient care.

The guarantees include:

  • A flexible immigration system, which is responsive to the needs of the health, medical research and social care sectors.
  • Ensuring continued access to EU research funding programmes and collaboration on medical research delivers benefits, including access to new medicines, to both the UK and the EU.
  • EEA medical students should be able to stay in the UK to live, train and work. Medical students from the UK should be extended the same rights across the UK.
  • Continuation of the open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland so healthcare professionals can move freely to deliver vital cross border health services to patients on both sides.
  • An agreement with Euratom to ensure patients in the UK get consistent and timely access to radio isotopes for cancer treatment.
Dr Andrew Dearden, BMA treasurer, said: “This list is by no means exhaustive. From research and innovation to the availability of medicines, there is barely a part of the NHS that will not be affected by the UK’s decision to leave the EU. The BMA is therefore urging negotiators on both sides to end this uncertainty and put health first in the final deal, guaranteeing safe care for patients in a sustainable healthcare system long after Brexit day.”

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