Immigration restrictions for EU citizens could damage UK research and healthcare

October 11, 2018, SAGE Publications

An analysis of senior European scientists and doctors working in the UK underlines the high risk of considerable damage to the UK's science output and international research reputation caused by any post-Brexit immigration restrictions, as well as an associated reduction in healthcare quality. The research, published by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, was carried out by a team from King's College London and Queen's University Belfast.

The researchers examined how many European individuals had been elected as fellows of the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences. These independent bodies recognise people who have excelled in their respective fields and have therefore contributed substantially to high-level UK science and research. The researchers also examined the UK Medical Register to identify European doctors working in senior positions as hospital consultants and GPs in the UK.

Their analysis confirmed a significant increase in the numbers of UK-based fellows of the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences from European countries since the Maastricht treaty was signed in 1992. They also established that since 2004 doctors from European countries are the largest cohort of foreign-qualified practitioners in the UK, with Eastern European doctors predominating during the last decade.

Lead researcher and King's College London academic Mursheda Begum said: "Our results indicate a very positive and statistically significant contribution of European scientists, academics and medical practitioners to the UK research base and the provision of clinical care. Many immigrants have built strong careers that have been rewarded by prestigious fellowships because they have impacted positively on UK research."

Co-author Professor Richard Sullivan added: "With the UK now officially in the process of leaving the EU, there are concerns about how this will affect NHS services and patient care, health research and international cooperation. It is distinctly possible that uncertainty about the ability of European citizens to work in the NHS may lead to a staffing crisis, as they seek work elsewhere. Medical specialties with a heavy reliance on EU nationals, such as general surgery and ophthalmology, and nursing are likely to be seriously affected."

"Our study clearly demonstrates the positive contribution by scientists and medical from European countries to high-level research and clinical care in the UK. It is vital that national diversity in high-quality human capital is maintained in a post-Brexit UK research and healthcare environment."

Explore further: Squeeze on UK health gives advanced nurses leading role

More information: Mursheda Begum et al, The value of European immigration for high-level UK research and clinical care: cross-sectional study, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (2018). DOI: 10.1177/0141076818803427

Related Stories

Squeeze on UK health gives advanced nurses leading role

October 13, 2017
Sara Dalby never imagined she would one day operate on patients when she started studying nursing.

England aims to end reliance on foreign doctors after Brexit

October 4, 2016
England is to train more doctors so that it can end its reliance on foreign recruits for the state-funded National Health Service after it leaves the European Union, the government announced Tuesday.

Health academics back EU remain campaign

May 24, 2016
A group of leading academics from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London says the UK must remain in the EU in order to protect the health of UK residents. Also at risk following a vote to leave the EU, says ...

Brexit and policy restrictions on immigration could worsen GP workforce crisis

November 15, 2017
Difficulties in replacing a fifth of the general practice workforce in England after Brexit will primarily threaten healthcare in more deprived areas, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Medicine. ...

Recommended for you

How do babies laugh? Like chimps!

November 7, 2018
Few things can delight an adult more easily than the uninhibited, effervescent laughter of a baby. Yet baby laughter, a new study shows, differs from adult laughter in a key way: Babies laugh as they both exhale and inhale, ...

Tongue-in-cheek Nobels honor nutritional analysis of cannibalism, roller-coaster kidney stones treatment

September 14, 2018
A nutritional analysis of cannibalism and treating kidney stones on roller-coasters were research projects honored by tongue-in-cheek awards at Harvard University Thursday, designed to make you laugh first, and think later.

Pediatric robot patient offers new level of realism for doctors in training

September 10, 2018
A team of researchers and engineers at Gaumard Scientific has unveiled a new robot that raises the bar on medical training devices. The robot, called HAL, has been made to look like a five-year-old male patient and offers ...

Why men say they've had more lifetime sexual partners than women

July 25, 2018
The disparity between the number of sexual partners reported by men and women can largely be explained by a tendency among men to report extreme numbers of partners, and to estimate rather than count their lifetime total, ...

Censors jump into action as China's latest vaccine scandal ignites

July 22, 2018
Chinese censors on Sunday deleted articles and postings about the vaccine industry as an online outcry over the country's latest vaccine scandal intensified.

Revenge of a forgotten medical 'genius'

June 30, 2018
It's not an uncommon fate for a pioneering scientist: languishing unrecognised in his time before dying in obscurity. But as his 200th birthday approaches, the life-saving work of a Hungarian obstetrician is finally getting ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.