GP: You're more likely to be treated by an immigrant than queue behind one
PUBLISHED: 12:12 26 November 2018 | UPDATED: 12:16 26 November 2018
German GP Dr Hubertus Von Blumenthal – who has been treating residents of South Cambridgeshire and Central Bedfordshire since 1999 – has shared his concerns now the draft Brexit deal has been released.
My personal concerns have been mirrored by many before. I don’t expect a knock on the door but the handling of individual cases by the Home Office is quite outrageous. I do not accept reassurances like ‘you will be OK, they need you’ and find them actually quite patronising and insulting to my fellow EU citizens who may find themselves in quite different circumstances to mine.
I am very surprised by the attitudes of many patients I look after. I find the intellectual disconnect between their support for Brexit and their personal experience of the NHS quite inexplicable. I understand the concerns they have and the problems they experience: Increasing delays and waiting times, funding that doesn’t keep up with inflation, services cut or rationed. Their conclusions however are flawed; you are much more likely to be treated by an immigrant than standing behind one in the queue. Europeans in Britain are net contributors to the NHS in financial terms and make up to 20% of personnel in some areas of the NHS. Already nurse recruitment and midwife recruitment from EU countries has fallen off the cliff. No nurses means closed wards, no beds, longer waits, no Physio, no community care. No Radiologists means no appointments for X Rays, no Doctors means no out patient appointments, no elective surgery, no continuity.
Training your own is a fallacy too, since decades are needed to train specialists and even now we have no British applicants to fill nurse vacancies. The NHS is 40 000 nurses and over 10 000 doctors short.
Many more problems will arise from disruptions to medical supplies. The Medicines Controls Agency has moved from London to Amsterdam, taking experience and funding with it, Britain will lose out on lucrative and prestigious investment and expertise and the supply chain of vital drugs will be threatened. I’m not just talking about Insulin, which can’t be stockpiled, but many other drugs we take for granted to have available without disruption every day.
Brexit will affect the supply of Radioisotopes which we currently receive from European countries. This will have an effect on the scans performed every day to diagnose cancer and on cancer treatment itself.
There are many more examples of how Brexit will negatively affect us all directly or indirectly within the NHS. The Brexit ‘dividend’ for the NHS was a cruel lie for political gain - we already spend more on Brexit every day than any extra funding would have promised, and we are not even taking into account the reduced tax take following the economic downturn after Brexit that even the most optimistic proponents of Brexit are not denying any more.
Yet, most of my patients who are in favour of Brexit and happy to talk about it seem to be in denial of this. They will have a rude awakening I fear. ‘Keep calm and carry on’ is cold comfort when you are out of your prescriptions, in a queue outside A+E, have not enough nurses and doctors to put you into the bed that doesn’t exist any more.