As the UK prepares to leave the EU today [31 January 2020], the British Medical Association Northern Ireland is concerned there are still outstanding issues that need to be resolved.

Dr Tom Black, BMA Northern Ireland Council Chair, said: “Today marks the beginning of leaving the EU and while this cannot be changed, we remain the only part of the UK to share a land border with Europe, and that unique position presents ongoing uncertainty and insecurity for the delivery of healthcare here.

“One of the key issues in resolving our health crisis will be the recruitment and retention of doctors and other healthcare staff. Freedom of movement has enabled doctors and other healthcare staff to travel, work and teach across Europe, letting those from the EU to both contribute to and learn from the NHS, while UK-trained clinicians have been able to share their skills in other European nations. We want to see that continue particularly across the island of Ireland.

“With just 11 months to finish negotiations on our future relationship with the EU, there are still issues to be resolved: current cross border health services must be able to continue and indeed expand; the practicalities around the transport of medicines over the border still needs to be resolved and replacement funding for EU funded services will need to be found.

“We also need to ensure the supply of vital medicines are not disrupted, protecting collaborative relationships with our neighbours on medical research, and introducing a flexible immigration system.”