The NHS must do much more to support its European doctors if it wants to retain them, warns a new study which shows Brexit has triggered a sense of alienation.
Brexit has had a ‘profound impact’ on the majority of UK-based EU doctors surveyed, leaving many feeling unwelcome, with uncertain rights at work straining relationships, it said. it finds.
Researchers from Brunel University London and Queen Mary University of London interviewed European doctors working in the UK in spring 2019 before the end of the Brexit transition period.
NHS bosses must offer their EU doctors financial and legal support to apply for UK settlement and tackle inequalities in hiring, promotion and pay, the study finds.
“A lot of the responsibility lies with the government in terms of restoring mutual recognition of qualifications,” said Dr Adrienne Milner, lecturer in public health at Brunel.
“NHS bosses can encourage their employees to apply for the EU settlement scheme and offer their support. They can also ensure staff are paid at a competitive rate and address issues of racial and ethnic inequality in hiring, promotion and compensation practices.
One in five doctors in the EU have made solid plans to leave the UK since the referendum result, said doctors’ union, the British Medical Association, 78% of whose members opposed Brexit. But this is the first study to reveal the many reasons behind their movements.
While stress and understaffing are common reasons doctors quit, doctors in the EU also face legal hurdles over their right to practice, whether their families can stay in the UK United and whether the UK will still recognize their qualifications beyond the next two years.
Whatever the main reason, EU doctors said Brexit had shaken their personal and professional lives and left them[JB(1] “no longer feeling welcome in the UK”, according to the study. “I felt like an immigrant for the first time in 15 years” and “…it seems like I’m not appreciated as a doctor,” two said.
The strain of Brexit on working relationships was another key theme, with 21% of doctors saying the vote and its aftermath have strained relationships. “I left a consultancy job because it was in an area that voted leave,” one said. “They didn’t want me there. Very demoralizing.
“The department is divided – the doctors are staying and the nurses are leaving,” said another. “It has polluted all human relations in the hospital.” 18% said their future working life in the UK did not seem secure and 12% said the Brexit vote and its aftermath had taken a toll on their mental health.
The government should try to reduce EU doctors’ fears by targeting them to apply for the EU settlement scheme before the June 30, 2021 deadline, the study recommends.
“There is clearly anger, worry and frustration, as well as objective concerns about legal status, qualifications, training and pensions which contribute to the strong impact Brexit felt on their personal and professional lives. “said Dr. Emma Norris of Brunel.
“From our results, it is clear that healthcare providers need to demonstrate that European doctors are respected and valued in the UK in order to avoid further loss of staff.”