The potential for a no-deal Brexit still remains a huge topic of conversation in the news, but what impact will this have for doctors and healthcare practitioners?
A no-deal Brexit scenario would occur if the UK and the European Union (EU) were unable to reach a deal. This would mean that the UK would immediately leave the EU without a deal and without a 21-month transition period. One of the key issues surrounding a no-deal Brexit is that it would lead to much uncertainty for those in the UK, with no clarity about what will actually happen. It would also signal a poor political relationship between the UK and the EU.
The impact of a no-deal Brexit on health and social care services
The BMA has warned that a no-deal Brexit will have “catastrophic” consequences for doctors, patients and services, putting huge amounts of pressure on the NHS at a time when it’s already struggling to deal with the rising demand.
This Brexit outcome would have consequences on the free movement of vital healthcare staff, for example between the hard border of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It could also restrict patient access to health services, medicines and treatments across borders.
The BMA Council Chair, Dr Chaand Nagpaul commented that a no-deal Brexit scenario will “irreparably harm the NHS and the nation’s health.”
He said, “Cancelled operations, missed cancer treatment targets and patients in corridors waiting for hours on end to be seen; recent winters have seen unprecedented scenes unfold in our hospitals, GP surgeries and across the NHS, with patients suffering and staff under increasing pressure as resources and capacity struggle to keep up with rocketing demand.”
Additionally, the BMA are worried that the no-deal Brexit planning by the Government is too little, too late. There are concerns that the no-deal planning does not consider the long-term risks of a no-deal Brexit on the health industry.
For further information about the impact of a no deal-Brexit on health and social care services in general, find out more here.
What does no-deal mean for doctors and healthcare practitioners?
A no-deal Brexit will most likely lead to shortages in healthcare staff and medicine.
The NHS is already experiencing a staffing crisis, and with the uncertainty surrounding doctors and healthcare practitioners’ jobs, a no-deal Brexit will only intensify this. This uncertainty is particularly prevalent for the huge number of EU doctors currently working in the UK.
Unison General Secretary, David Prentis said, “Brexit hasn’t just stopped potential EU recruits coming here to join the NHS, it’s also convinced those already working here that they’re better off elsewhere.”
Further staff shortages will only increase the pressure put on current healthcare workers, as well as increasing stress levels.
Additionally, medicine and healthcare equipment shortages are expected. 60% of devices used by the NHS are imported so the disruption to trade that will arise from a no-deal Brexit will significantly impact the supply chain to doctors and healthcare practitioners.
Although some medicines can be stockpiled, many life-saving medicines and treatments cannot be and supplies can run out. These shortages and delays in supplies can be fatal, putting further pressure on healthcare staff.
The BMA are working hard to safeguard the future of the medical profession following the UK’s Brexit vote. However, if you’re worried about the uncertainties surrounding your job that a no-deal Brexit will bring, make sure you seek advice. Take a look at our medical indemnity insurance for doctors and medical practitioners, and follow our top tips for coping with stress in the workplace.