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Nearly 3.5 million patients at risk of losing their family doctor through Brexit, warns RCGP

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) warns that around 2000 GPs providing care for more than 3m patients could be lost to the NHS if their status is not protected during Brexit negotiations.

On 21st May, the RCGP, the professional body for family doctors, released its new analysis, which shows that the manpower problems will be exacerbated as GPs from EU countries return home, because of Brexit. A total of 2,137 GPs across the UK that the RCGP estimates are from countries in the European Economic Area, are forced to leave. In Northern Ireland, EU nationals represent 11 per cent of the GP workforce, and 4 per cent in Wales and Scotland.

The college is calling on the next Government to safeguard the current GP workforce during Brexit negotiations by ensuring the status of all EU healthcare professionals working in the National Health Service (NHS). The Royal College is also requesting the next government to add GPs to the Migration Advisory Committee’s Shortage Occupation List, which would make it easier for family doctors from overseas to live and work in the UK.

YouGov conducted a poll for the college that has found 59 per cent of people think that GPs from the EU working in UK general practice should have their position guaranteed from the outset of Brexit negotiations.

The chair of the RCGP, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said that the RCGP desperately need thousands more GPs right across the UK, and in England they have been promised additional 5,000 GPs by 2020. The latest figure shows that RCGP risk losing around 2,000 family doctors from the NHS if their position is not secured as part of Brexit negotiations, and that is just not safe or acceptable.

She further added that the RCGP have a severe shortage of GPs and other practice staff across the UK and they are very thankful for the work that overseas doctors are currently doing to deliver excellent patient care and support healthcare organization to meet the demands of ageing and growing population.

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