Patients’ needs must be central to negotiations on Brexit

Tuesday 14 March 2017

The Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) today calls on the Government to put patients and their carers at the heart of negotiations on exiting the European Union:

  • The UK must continue to have access to a European licensing process for new medical treatments. This would avoid the UK falling behind in the treatment it can offer, avoid delays in access to such treatments for patients and help ensure the UK remains financially attractive to medicine and medical device manufacturers. 
  • Patients and their doctors must continue to have the same level of access to clinical trials through European trials governance rules. This would allow continued participation in such trials which are the cornerstone of best clinical practice.
  • There must be continued free movement of medical professionals to avoid worsening the situation in medical specialties that are already on the National Shortage Occupation List and which include clinical radiology. Already many patients (approximately 230,000) wait over a month for the results of their scans and X-rays due to a severe shortage of clinical radiologists.1  Nine percent of radiologists in the UK qualified elsewhere in the EU2 and recent surveys have shown consistent indications that concerns about their future rights in the UK are causing many to consider leaving Britain.3
  • The planned Immigration Skills Charge4 of £1000 per year on the NHS for each worker coming to the UK from outside the European Union should be scrapped. It will make shortage healthcare occupations worse and divert money urgently needed for patient care. Whilst the Government’s commitment to building home-grown skills is applauded, that will take years to achieve and continued support of the NHS by European healthcare workers in the interim years is essential.
  • There should be legal assurance of the rights of EU citizens in the UK including their free access to NHS care. Such certainty is also essential for recruitment of European radiologists to work in the NHS, and importantly, for their retention.

Speaking today as the Prime Minister moves to trigger Article 50, the President of the RCR, Dr Nicola Strickland, said:

“The problems of an overstretched NHS and shortages of medical and other healthcare professionals are well known. The Government must have patients and their carers at the heart of their negotiations on Brexit so that the quality and availability of NHS services does not deteriorate further.”

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References:

  1. https://www.rcr.ac.uk/posts/new-report-finds-patients-still-waiting-test-results-despite-huge-increase-spend-outsourcing
  1. http://www.gmc-uk.org/static/documents/content/2017.02.21_GMC_data_on_EEA_doctors_in_the_UK.pdf
  1. https://www.bma.org.uk/news/media-centre/press-releases/2017/february/european-doctors-considering-leaving-uk-following-brexit-vote
  1. http://www.nhsemployers.org/news/2017/02/tier-2-immigration-skills-charge-from-april-2017