BMA responds to Prime Minister's speech on Brexit

By agency reporter
March 4, 2018

Responding to Prime Minister Theresa May's speech on Brexit, Dr Andrew Dearden, BMA treasurer, said, “We are pleased to see the Prime Minister repeat her pledge to maintain a soft border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Often separate health services in Northern Ireland and the Republic do not have enough demand to provide cost-effective, highly specialist medical services and the only viable way to provide these services to patients is to deliver them across both countries.

"Over the last two decades, real progress in the provision of all-island healthcare has improved care for patients and allowed both Northern Ireland and the Republic to retain highly trained doctors, who otherwise may not have had the patient demand necessary to warrant their full-time expertise.  If border restrictions are introduced following Brexit we risk reversing this progress and damaging patient care.

“We are also pleased to see that the government wants to explore associate membership of the European Medicines Agency. The EMA helps provide the UK with timely and safe access to medicines, and likewise helps the EU access medicines that are developed here in the UK. We want to see the government work closely with the EMA through a formal agreement to continue to support and participate in their assessments for medicines approvals.

“Unfortunately, this speech didn’t provide any further clarity from the government on exactly what the future holds for EU citizens and their families living in the UK, many of whom have dedicated years of service to the NHS and medical research in the UK, or on what a future immigration model would look like.

"It is vital that any future immigration system is flexible enough to ensure the NHS can recruit and retain doctors and other NHS workers in sufficient numbers and that the professional qualifications of medical staff continue to be recognised in the UK and in the EU. Our NHS and patient care are all the richer for having a diverse workforce - it’s crucial we don’t lose valuable experience and expertise because of Brexit.”

* The BMA has produced a series of briefings on the impact of Brexit on the NHS, available here

* British Medical Association https://www.bma.org.uk/

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