Chris Smyth warns us in The Times 16th August 2016, on the reduction in EU trained doctors threatening staffing levels further. So even more medical student places need funding…
Medical expertise in areas from cancer treatment to brain surgery will be damaged by an exodus of European staff following Brexit, leading hospitals have warned.
Some European doctors and nurses are already leaving the NHS, threatening specialist care that relies on them, hospitals say. A quarter of the doctors in some specialist hospitals come from the EU and because they have rare skills they cannot be replaced by British staff. NHS officials say that patients would be at risk if they left.
In a letter to The Times the Federation of Specialist Hospitals has urged the government to guarantee European staff that their future in the NHS is secure so that patients do not suffer.
The chief executives of Royal Brompton Hospital, which specialises in cancer care, Papworth Hospital, the leading heart transplant unit, Walton Centre, a major neurology hospital, and Moorfields Eye Hospital are those warning of the threat posed by the departure of EU staff.
“Our ability to provide exceptional care to patients hinges on recruiting and retaining the best clinical talent from the UK and further afield,” they write. “Crucially, this includes the European Union, where up to a quarter of doctors in a given specialist hospital trust may come from other member states, with even higher proportions for some clinical teams.
“In the wake of the EU referendum result our greatly valued European colleagues are understandably feeling uncertain about what the future holds for them in this country. Indeed, one or two have already left and, as things stand, more will be heading in the same direction with little return traffic.”
Rob Hurd, head of Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, which treats complex hip and spine problems, said that with the NHS already under pressure “we don’t want this to be the thing that breaks us”.
Theresa May, however, has declined to offer guarantees, while uncertainty remains over the status of millions of Britons living in Europe.
• Patients are at risk because of European doctors’ poor English, the Royal College of Surgeons has warned. EU doctors attract a disproportionate number of complaints about their ability to speak English and must be subject to the same stringent tests as other foreign medics, the college says.