Conservative MPs are having a bit of a disagreement about the benefits of Brexit. In comments to the Telegraph, health minister Stephen Barclay has suggested [paywall] that medical students could qualify as doctors more quickly after Brexit. He said [paywall]:
At the moment you don’t qualify as a doctor when you leave medical school – you have to do a further year and that brings with it some additional costs.
Currently, medical students aren’t registered as doctors until they’ve practised for a year after medical school. An independent review in 2013 suggested [pdf, p32] that medical students should be registered once they complete medical school. The British Medical Association (BMA), however, was not happy with the idea, saying in a response to the review:
The BMA is not convinced it is possible to produce doctors who are fit to practise under these conditions.
Leave.EU likes the idea
The recommendation to move the point of registration was made in 2013, long before the EU referendum was announced. However, that did not prevent Leave.EU from claiming that shortening medical training was another benefit of Brexit:
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EU regulations currently prevent doctors from qualifying before five years of training. Just one of countless examples of EU "market building" that do nothing of the sort, instead causing disruption and impairing UK policymakers.https://t.co/26gYwjXnUW
— Leave.EU (@LeaveEUOfficial) August 3, 2018
And Conservative MP Andrea Jenkyns was also quick to jump on the bandwagon:
Doctors could qualify more quickly after Brexit to solve staff shortages, minister says https://t.co/sDySMkGYMU
— Andrea Jenkyns MP #StandUp4Brexit (@andreajenkyns) August 2, 2018
“Very very silly straws”
Twitter was not impressed by Jenkyns, though:
Unbelievable. You're actually cheering the idea of dumbing down doctors and reducing patient safety as if it's a good thing, simply because you're so locked into your "everything Brexit is great" ideological tunnel.
Pathetic and terrifying at the same time.
— Another Angry Voice (@Angry_Voice) August 3, 2018
Well this makes perfect sense. Because we all know that a doctor emerges from medical school fully trained & ready for anything. Brain surgery? Cataract? Psychosis? Easy
The 14 years of training I'm receiving *after* graduation is just me dicking about! Brexit has opened my eyes
— Medlife Crisis (Rohin) (@MedCrisis) August 3, 2018
😂😂😂 Medicine was a 5 year training scheme (now 4yrs for post grads) before we joined the EU. Over that time medicine has become ever more complex – yet you want doctors trained more rapidly. Which bit should be omitted? The brain? No need of it post-brexit anyway. 🙄🙄🙄
— Simon Whittaker (@bluesaint72) August 3, 2018
I’m a doctor and I do not want Drs working with me who are half trained. Nor does anyone else. Graduate courses are already 4 yrs. you are clutching at very very silly straws.
— Rhodri Morgan-Smith (@DocRods) August 3, 2018
“This is rubbish”
And whilst Jenkyns was saying that it was “fantastic and great” to see Barclay explaining the benefits of Brexit to the NHS, another Conservative MP – and qualified doctor – debunked the idea that the EU was setting the rules on medical training:
This is rubbish, faster post-grad courses already exist for those who have relevant degrees. It’s not a #Brexit dividend to have worse training for doctors fgs. What planet are these straw clutchers on? https://t.co/UgtidVyztM
— Sarah Wollaston MP (@sarahwollaston) August 3, 2018
Nearly half of EU doctors considering leaving
There’s evidence that, if Brexit goes ahead, it will add to the crisis in NHS staffing. In 2017, a BMA survey of EU doctors working in the UK found that 45% were considering leaving following the Brexit vote, with a further 29% unsure. The reasons they gave for wanting to leave were the vote itself, negative attitudes towards EU workers, and uncertainty about future immigration rules.
Despite all the evidence, Stephen Barclay is suggesting [paywall] that Brexit could lead to “opportunities” for the NHS. One of those “opportunities” is supposedly reducing the length of medical training – even though that has nothing to do with the EU. He seems to be inventing EU regulations in order to try to reduce the massive damage which Brexit will cause to the NHS. Straw-clutching indeed.
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