Brexit further reducing the NHS doctors, acute shortage complicating UK healthcare
Research has revealed that Brexit has worsened the acute shortage of UK’s NHS doctors in key healthcare areas with more than 4,000 European doctors choosing to leave and not work in the NHS. The stark revelation comes at a time when increasing numbers of medics are quitting NHS due to their relentlessly busy working lives in the stressed and exhausted health service sector of the UK. Official figures show the NHS in England alone now has vacancies for 10,582 physicians.
“Britain has 4,285 fewer European doctors than if the rising numbers who were coming before the Brexit vote in 2016 had been maintained since then,” according to analysis shared with The Guardian by the Nuffield Trust health thinktank.
A total of 37,035 medics from the European Union and European free trade area (EFTA) were working in the UK in 2021. However, the number would have been 41,320, that is 4,285 more, if the decision from UK government to leave the EU had “not triggered a slowdown in medical recruitment from the EU and the EFTA quartet of Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein”. The has led to acute shortages of doctors in four major medical specialities – anaesthetics, children, psychiatry, and heart and lung treatment. The shortage of doctors amalgamated with the rise in demand of care in these specialities due to Covid-19 and aging population has further complicated the situation for the healthcare sector in UK.
“The NHS has struggled to recruit vital specialists such as anaesthetists at home, and Brexit looks to be worsening longstanding workforce shortages in some professional groups. Without anaesthetists, many operations cannot happen,” said the Nuffield Trust researcher Martha McCarey, the lead author of the analysis.
The Nuffield Trust has blamed the dropoff or reduction in number of doctors on the fact that EU-trained medics who want to work in the UK have to now handle extra bureaucracy and higher procedural costs as a direct impact of Brexit. “Since the referendum campaign, greater costs, more paperwork and uncertainty over visas because of Brexit have been among the biggest barriers to recruiting and keeping EU and EFTA doctors,” said McCarey.