Sunday 22 September 2019

Fears our health staff will be 'hunted' for jobs in the NHS

There are already 13,000 Irish healthcare workers in the NHS. Stock photo: PA
There are already 13,000 Irish healthcare workers in the NHS. Stock photo: PA

Colm Kelpie

Ireland could become a "hunting ground" for Britain's NHS after Brexit, meaning we will lose some staff we need to run our health service, the president of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has warned.

Dr Ann Hogan suggested to a House of Lords committee focusing on Brexit and Ireland that if EU nationals leave the UK health system, more Irish could be lured into posts in Britain and that could leave gaps in our system. There were already 13,000 Irish healthcare workers in the NHS, she said.

"We are concerned that, if other EU nationals leave the UK on Brexit, Ireland will become a kind of hunting ground for NHS staff, and we will lose some of the staff we need to run our health service," Dr Hogan told the committee, which recently took evidence in Ireland.

Dr Hogan also said the IMO was concerned about access to and the cost of medicines.

"Something like 65pc of the medicines that come into Ireland come through the UK," Dr Hogan added. "Our HPRA - the Health Products Regulatory Authority - has been working very closely with its counterparts in the UK to try to minimise the adverse effects of that, but we are concerned about it."

Concerns have already been raised about the prospect of post-Brexit medicine shortages.

Sandra Gannon, general manager of drug company Teva Ireland, warned last year, before the December deal, that post-Brexit risks included the potential for lengthy Border delays, significant customs costs and divergent regulatory stances, leading to increased medicine costs and growing drug shortages.

Dr Hogan said one of the IMO's big concerns was that the health implications might "fall off the agenda".

"Things like agriculture are huge, and the electricity market affects everybody, but the health pieces may not be as universally obvious and we are concerned that it does not fall off the agenda," Dr Hogan added.

She said that a cross-Border committee should be established to examine all the potential effects of Brexit on health sector provision here, and to come to some agreement between the two countries on the long-term cost and funding implications.

Irish Independent

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