Entry into Britain to become more difficult for EU doctors, according to latest reports

At Hylton Potts, we know how much our clients and the general public rely on us to bring them the latest news when it comes to our specialist legal fields. Recently, Jeremy Hunt has commented on how the NHS is too reliant on the high number of EU doctors and other medical professionals currently in the employ of the British healthcare system, and we feel it is our duty to tell you the facts on this story.

Hunt has suggested, in a statement to the media, how the post-Brexit NHS should aim to slash the number of foreign doctors currently taking up positions, and instead offer them to British people by increasing the number of training places for new doctors.

This act of creating ‘self-sufficiency’, Hunt suggests, will then help to fill those gaps in the UK healthcare system that are currently being plugged by EU nationals. If this story all sounds like news to you, then read on to find out more, and also learn why there has never been a better time to apply to work in the NHS.

What’s the story?

There has been much controversy recently in the UK medical industry. On the one hand, recent statistics released by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) stated that Britain has more foreign doctors working in its health service than any other major European country, with 36% of its workforce born overseas. This throws into the limelight the huge demand for services, coupled with the distinct lack of resources, that the NHS is currently dealing with.

On the other hand, more fuel was added to the fire when the British Medical Association (BMA) argued that the Health Secretary’s new junior doctors’ contract will only serve to push British-trained NHS staff further away, with working conditions and pay far below the standard needed or expected.

However, just a couple of weeks ago, Jeremy Hunt told the press that in order to sustain a strong healthcare system, training and offering positions to British-born people is the way forward in a post-Brexit country.

He said: “I think people will ask whether it is right when we are turning away bright British youngsters from medical school – who might get three A* [at A-level] but still can’t get in – at the same time we are importing people from all over the world. I think it’s a debate we need to have.”

How would this be achieved?

Whatever Hunt might say, the fact remains that morale within the NHS staff is at an all-time low, as reiterated by BMA Leader, Ellen McCourt, who warned this September of the problems with the new junior doctor’s contract. She said: “The biggest risk with this contract, and also with this dispute continuing, is that doctors will leave the NHS. You can’t stretch us more thinly, there needs to be a plan – how are we going to make medicine more attractive to people? How are we going to make people stay in the NHS?”

With this in mind, Hunt responded aptly with his speech to the Conservative Party conference which was held a couple of weeks ago. According to reports, he pledged that medical schools in the UK would be allowed to offer up to 1,500 extra training places per year. He commented: “Is it right to import doctors from poorer countries that need them while turning away bright home graduates desperate to study medicine?”

While he acknowledged that it would take a number of years before such doctors-in-training qualified, he stated that the aim was to ensure that by the end of the next parliament, the NHS would be self-sufficient in terms of the number of doctors required.

However, what of those EU nationals who are already living and working within the British healthcare system? Hunt was quick to also praise the work these doctors, nurses and other professionals are currently doing, saying that: “We want EU nationals who are already here to be able to stay post-Brexit.”

What does it mean for me?

It is clear from everything that has been reported in the media so far that it is highly unlikely that anyone already a member of the NHS medical team would be asked to leave in post-Brexit Britain. The need for these hard-working individuals is simply too great, and such an act would be both detrimental to the welfare of the public, as well as causing anger within the medical community.

However, if such plans by Jeremy Hunt and the government do come to fruition, the fact remains that the process of coming over to the UK for employment will become far more difficult, especially for medical professionals.

For at least the next 18 months or so though, let’s not forget that Britain is still very much a part of the EU, and it is still possible for doctors, nurses and other qualified medical professionals to make a move to the UK. In this sense, it is the perfect time!

If you are considering such a career step, then ensuring you do so within the next 12 to 18 months will mean that you are not included in the post-Brexit laws and regulations, and the move itself will be a far simpler process. Once you have settled into a position, it will then be unlikely that the British government will ask you or your family to leave, as you will already have become a part of that community and provide a valuable service to your patients.

Are you considering such a move, but are unsure of the process you need to go through? Our legal experts are always on hand to give you the advice and guidance you need to make the right decisions, but the most important thing is to contact us as soon as possible. You can call us on 020 7381 8111, or email us at [email protected].

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