The “devastating impact” of Brexit is the biggest risk to health and social care, the head of Scotland’s GPs has warned.
Leaving the European Union is likely to cause serious and long-term damage, Andrew Buist, chair of the BMA Scotland’s GP committee, said.
Criticising “deeply frustrating” confusion, Dr Buist told GPs at a conference in Belfast that the problems acquiring medicine was an issue taken out of their control.
“Brexit, and the potential devastating impact it will have on the health and social care workforce and availability of medicines, is a problem we have no control over,” he said.
“This will be particularly acute in the event that we leave the EU without a deal.”
Dr Buist also said that EU nationals who work in Scotland’s healthcare services should not feel they have to leave their jobs because of Brexit.
While we welcome tonight’s vote to delay Brexit, crashing out with no agreement still remains a distinct possibility. It’s crucial that any delay is long enough to allow a second referendum, giving the British public the final say https://t.co/fPua1ZaOKF pic.twitter.com/EkITgtezkv
— The BMA (@TheBMA) March 14, 2019
Praising the Scottish Government’s support on reassuring EU nationals will still be welcome, he added: “GPs and nurses from across Europe have come to Scotland to care for our population – they are part of our communities. They are our valued colleagues.
“It is simply wrong that they should feel they no longer belong here or should be planning to leave as a result of Brexit.
“We must do what we can to encourage them to stay.”
The Tayside GP also welcomed a Scottish Government loan scheme to allow GPs to borrow interest-free money to help run surgeries, saying he hoped it “will help to improve recruitment and retention across Scotland”.
Introduced in November 2018, 172 practices have been successful in applying for loans from the £50 million fund.
Following the speech, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said: “The Conservative party are putting the health of our nation at risk.
“It breaks my heart that people who have come to Scotland to work in our health service, should be made to feel unwelcome or fear for their futures.
“For the sake of our NHS, we need a public vote on the Brexit deal with the opportunity to remain in the EU.”
Scottish Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Monica Lennon MSP said: “The BMA are absolutely right to raise these serious concerns.
“The Tories’ disastrous handling of Brexit is putting the future of our NHS at risk.
“A chaotic no deal Brexit continues to loom over the health service, leaving thousands of EU nationals who work tirelessly in our NHS fearing for their future.
“It’s time for Theresa May to finally take no deal off the table to give NHS staff, businesses and the entire country the certainty they need.”