As Britain prepares to leave the EU, there are concerns across Scotland that it could lose over 220 GPs once this happens. This warning was given by Scotland’s Royal College of GPs (RCGP).
The RCGP is worried that doctors from EU countries will not be able to stay and work in the UK after Brexit takes place. It is therefore urging political parties to ensure that GPs and other healthcare professionals already working in the UK be guaranteed residency after Brexit.
In the last four years, Scotland has been losing GPs at an alarming rate. The overall number has fallen by 90, and if this trend continues, the healthcare services will be in complete disarray. Estimates show that Scotland will require an additional 800 GPs by 2021, based on the current attrition rate.
The RCGP has pointed out that Scotland currently has 226 GPs from the EU. If these GPs are forced to leave after Britain exits the EU, it would have a profound effect on patient health and safety.
RCGP Chairman Dr. Miles Mack said that he was worried that Scotland could lose another 4 per cent of its GPs. This would put a lot of stress on the GP workforce, which is already stretched and overworked. Losing 220 GPs in the next couple of years would mean that 226,000 patients in the country would be adversely affected.
Health Secretary Shona Robison pointed out that the uncertainty surrounding Brexit poses numerous challenges for NHS contractors and employees, as planning becomes difficult.
Whilst UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that one of the main priorities of the UK Government is to ensure that EU healthcare professionals can continue living and working in the UK, Scottish Labour Party health spokesperson Anas Sarwar pointed out that the GP crisis in Scotland was present long before Brexit began, and the Government had not taken any measures to address it.
The Scottish Labour Party wants the Government to create special arrangements for NHS contractors such as GPs and other NHS staff from the EU so that they can live and work in Scotland.