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Queen's University hosts ‘Brexit, Medicine and Beyond' event

Queen’s University Belfast and the Presidents of Royal Medical Colleges in Ireland, England and Scotland, hosted more than 150 doctors from the island of Ireland, England and Scotland to discuss the wide range of challenges that Brexit will create for the health services in these jurisdictions.

The Presidents of Royal Medical Colleges in Ireland, England and Scotland issued a stark warning to politicians that protecting access to cross-border healthcare and patient safety must be a top priority as Brexit nears.

Convened by Professor Mary Horgan, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, this meeting provided a forum for doctors working at the frontline in neighbouring countries to share their concerns and highlight challenges as Brexit draws nearer. “Brexit, particularly a ‘no deal’ Brexit, has the potential to throw up serious challenges in how we deliver healthcare, particularly in border areas,” Professor Horgan said.

She continued: “These are exceptional and uncertain times that will place greater strains on already highly pressurised health services. Politicians must stay focussed on protecting patient safety, access to cross-border healthcare and address other issues that can affect the recruitment and retention of doctors in our health services.

 “I would like to thank Professor Ian Greer, President and Vice Chancellor of Queen’s University for hosting this important meeting and the Presidents of our sister colleges, Professor Jackie Taylor, Professor Derek Bell and Professor Andrew Goddard for joining forces together to address concerns about Brexit.”

Professor Ian Greer, President and Vice Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast said: “I am delighted to welcome my colleagues from the Royal Colleges across the UK and Ireland to Queen’s today and I hope this event will be the first of many opportunities for future collaborations, as we seek to address the many challenges facing our respective healthcare systems post-Brexit.” 

President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Professor Derek Bell OBE, said: “It is right and proper that the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh – in conjunction with our sister Colleges – discusses and plans for major issues such as Brexit, which has the potential to have a major impact on all staff working in the NHS.

“It is our wish – and I am sure that I speak for all of our Members and Fellows – that the practical effects of Brexit are kept as far from the frontline of healthcare delivery as possible, so that both staff and patients can continue to work to deliver the best care. Events such as this one are an important means of sharing approaches to ensure that practical help is in place if and when it is needed.”

Professor Jackie Taylor, President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow said: “With only thirty-two days before the UK leaves the EU, managing the Brexit process remains the biggest immediate challenge to the NHS. That’s why we’re delighted to be working with our sister colleges to share our expertise and experience on this issue. It’s imperative that we all work together to try to ensure that whatever happens at Westminster, frontline healthcare is not adversely impacted by the political choices that are made tomorrow.”

Professor Andrew Goddard, President, Royal College of Physicians of London said: As Brexit draws closer, clinical leadership has never been so important. The royal colleges will continue to work together to make sure that patient safety is at the centre of Brexit planning. We want the government to work with the EU, the NHS and health organisations to put patients at the heart of their negotiations because this ongoing uncertainty is causing a real challenge to NHS workforce planning, the supply of medicines, and medical research. With a growing focus on the border and the ‘backstop’, we’re pleased to be working with colleagues in Northern Ireland to share ideas.”