More than 4,000 European doctors have decided not to work with UK’s National Health Service (NHS), worsening the country’s shortage of doctors after Brexit, recent research said.
Anesthetist, pediatric, cardiothoracic surgery, and psychiatry were greatly affected
There are four specialties, including anesthetist, pediatric, cardiothoracic surgery, and psychiatry, with known ongoing recruitment and retention issues, where staffing data also show a proportionately high number of staff from the EU and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries before Brexit, according to the research published on Sunday by the Nuffield Trust.
In 2021, a total of 37,035 European doctors were working in the UK, the stats showed, 4,285 lower than the projected number of 41,321 if Brexit did not happen.
“The findings suggest that stagnation in the number of EU doctors in these specialties has exacerbated existing shortages in areas where the NHS has not been able to find enough qualified staff elsewhere,” the research said. “While deeper research into drivers of migration is needed, it appears likely that the decision to leave the EU in 2016 plays a role.”
According a report, a study estimates that without Brexit, there would be 4,000 more doctors in major specialties. It comes as the crisis-hit NHS struggles after years of underfinancing, with record waiting lists for some hospital care.
A study published Sunday said that Brexit has compounded a shortage of doctors in Britain, with an estimated shortfall of 4,000 in major specialty areas from EU countries.
It comes as the crisis-hit NHS state-funded health service struggles after years of underfinancing, with record waiting lists for some hospital care due to the Covid-19 pandemic but also a lack of doctors and nurses.
The Nuffield Trust, an independent health think tank, focused on four fields of medicine – anesthesia, pediatrics, cardiothoracic surgery, and psychiatry – where European doctors had been particularly relied upon before the UK left the European Union.
It found that in the four areas – where recruitment was already challenging –”the increase in EU and EFTA (European Free Trade Association) staff slowed down, falling below the projected increase.”
If the trend seen before Brexit had continued, there should have been more than 41,000 doctors from the EU or EFTA (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein) registered in 2021, or at least 4,000 more than the figures showed.
“The campaign and result of the EU referendum is the obvious reason for a change in trend around 2015 and 2016,” the study, commissioned by The Guardian newspaper, said.
It highlighted initial uncertainty over new rules for the movement of people, followed by tighter visa rules and “deteriorating work conditions” in the health system.
“The findings suggest that stagnation in the number of EU doctors in these specialties has exacerbated existing shortages in areas where the NHS has not been able to find enough qualified staff elsewhere,” it added.
The Royal College of Nursing last week announced that its members would next month hold their first strike action in the union’s 106-year history in England and Wales, citing pay, conditions and chronic staff shortages.