- Britain’s largest doctors’ union backs “Final Say” campaign for a second referendum.
- The BMA said there is “too much uncertainty on the implications for the NHS and its staff” around Brexit.
- It came as a poll of nearly 1,200 doctors published today found that 83% believe leaving the EU will hurt the NHS.
- When asked how serious the impact of Brexit on the NHS will be — with 10 being the best and 0 being the worst imaginable — the average response was 2.
LONDON — Britain’s largest doctors’ union has backed a new campaign for a second Brexit referendum, warning that there is “too much uncertainty on the implications for the NHS and its staff” around the country’s EU departure.
The British Medical Association, which represents 160,000 medics and students, on Thursday gave its backing to the “Final Say” campaign run by the Independent news site, which has collected nearly 400,000 signatures from voters in favour of a fresh referendum.
The BMA tweeted that it was “imperative” that the public has a vote on any final proposed Brexit deal, warning that the challenges posed by Brexit to the medical industry are “considerable” despite some recent progress in negotiations.
The BMA’s members voted overwhelmingly in favour of a second referendum at a recent vote, and the Royal College of Nursing, which represents around half a million nurses and midwives, has also backed the idea.
It comes as a survey published on Tuesday found that UK doctors believe Brexit will devastate both the NHS and the nation’s health.
A poll of nearly 1,200 doctors published in the BMJ Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that 83% believe leaving the EU will hurt the NHS.
When asked how serious the impact of Brexit on the NHS will be — with 10 being the best and 0 being the worst imaginable — the average response was 2.
“Doctors are amongst the best placed people to understand the impact of political decisions on the NHS,” said the study’s lead author Dr Kate Mandeville, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
“On Brexit, their opinion is very clear: Brexit is bad for the nation’s health.”
The BMA has been particularly critical of the government’s failure to offer any clarity on immigration after Brexit, because the medical sector is heavily dependent on immigrant nurses, doctors, and support staff.
There is already a dramatic shortage of NHS staff, which appears to have been exacerbated by a drop-off in EU migration since the Brexit referendum in 2016. Quarterly figures released by regulator NHS Improvement in February for showed that NHS England trusts “employ 1.1 million whole-time-equivalent staff but that they have 100,000 vacancies.”
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