Thousands of doctors set to flee the NHS following Brexit

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Nearly one in five qualified NHS doctors from the European Economic Area (EEA) have made firm plans to quit Britain following the Brexit vote, with many more thinking of leaving, a survey has revealed, raising fresh fears of a nationwide medical "brain drain".

The survey of 1,720 doctors from European Economic Area countries, conducted by the British Medical Association (BMA), found that their main reasons for considering leaving were Britain's decision to quit the EU; negative attitudes towards EU workers in the United Kingdom; and uncertainty over future immigration rules.

A British Medical Association survey found nearly half of NHS doctors from the European Economic Area are also considering leaving.

'Many have dedicated years of service to the NHS and medical research in the United Kingdom, and without them our health service would not be able to cope.

'We need clarity on what the future holds for European Union citizens and their families living in the United Kingdom, and an end to the uncertainty and insecurity that could see many voting with their feet.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "This survey does not stand up to scrutiny; in fact, there are actually more European Union doctors working in the NHS since the European Union referendum, more European Union graduates joining the United Kingdom medical register and 3,193 more European Union nationals working in the NHS overall".

"To prevent the catastrophe of a Brexodus of NHS workers, the Government must immediately and unilaterally guarantee the rights of European Union nationals living and working in Britain, and make clear that our immigration system will remain welcoming in future".

"Our NHS and patient care are all the richer for having a diverse workforce - it's crucial we don't lose valuable experience and expertise because of Brexit".

The BMA spoke to 1720 medics of which 45% said they were considering leaving the United Kingdom, and 18% said they had already made plans to emigrate. They said: "This survey does not stand up to scrutiny".

The countries most likely to benefit from the exodus of NHS medical professionals were Germany, Spain and Australia.

Dr Nardini, who moved back to Italy in August after almost two years in Manchester and Teesside, said Brexit had been a "key factor".

"One of my main concerns was around whether my qualifications would continue to be recognised overseas and in the UK".

"There's so much uncertainty at the moment - moving back to Italy and completing my training here seemed like the safer option".

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth described the survey's findings as "extremely worrying".

"These new figures from the BMA are alarming, especially at a time when the NHS workforce is already under enormous pressure because of staff shortages, and impending winter difficulties are only going to exacerbate the problem", he said.