Over the last two years, doctors and others have asked many questions about what Brexit means for those already working here, and for those who may want to do so in the future.

This week, the UK government has confirmed that professionals with a qualification from the European Economic Area (EEA) will continue to have their qualifications recognised in the event of a no deal Brexit. Our Public Affairs Manager, Nicola While, explains what this means for doctors.

UK politics certainly hasn’t been quiet for the past few months. While we continue to await confirmation of a deal, a delay to Brexit or a no deal, we hope EEA qualified doctors will be reassured that they’ll still be able to join the UK register and practise here, regardless of the scenario we face.

Following parliamentary approval of regulations to apply in the event of ‘no deal’, the UK government has now confirmed that EEA doctors already in the UK can continue to practise here, as they do now. And anyone holding a relevant European qualification* who wants to join the register, will be able to continue to register with us in a timely and streamlined way.

Over the past 12 months, we have been working closely with the four UK health departments to bring about this legislation. Our focus has been on doing all we can to ensure a continuing healthy supply of doctors from the EEA, to help maintain a sustainable medical workforce in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. 

A vital part of the medical workforce

We know that the uncertainty over the past months will have been frustrating and worrying.

Approximately 2,000 EEA qualified doctors come to the UK each year and contribute to the NHS. They are a vital part of our medical workforce; and along with doctors from other parts of the world, they make a huge and valuable contribution to our healthcare systems, and in delivering high quality patient care.

Whatever type of Brexit is agreed, it is essential that doctors from the EEA are not deterred from practising here. 

Keeping you up to date

While we can confirm that EEA qualified doctors will still be able to register with us in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, we still don’t know what the terms of the UK leaving the EU will be.

The changes we’ll need to make to the current registration process ultimately depend on the ongoing negotiations between the UK government and the European Union. For example, if there is a deal there would be virtually no change to how we register doctors for the duration of the transition period.

However, whatever happens with Brexit, our fundamental role and responsibilities won’t change. We’ll continue to help protect patients and improve UK medical education and practice across the four countries of the UK.

We’ll also continue to provide as much information as we can. We’ve already published a set of Q&As about Brexit and what this means for doctors, which we’ll continue to update as the situation becomes clearer.

*Qualifications listed under Annex V of the Recognition of Professional Qualifications directive.