RCP urges MPs to vote against no-deal Brexit

The RCP is taking the unusual step of writing to all MPs asking them to vote against the UK leaving the EU without an agreement, to protect patients.

The letter from RCP president Professor Andrew Goddard asks MPs to keep this stark warning foremost in their minds: “If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, there will almost certainly be a negative impact on the health of your constituents and the NHS.”

Continuing, he adds: “Throughout the negotiations, the RCP has been clear that patients and patient safety must be a priority. That is why we have worked closely with the Department for Health and Social Care, NHS England and colleagues in the devolved nations to support preparations.

If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, there will almost certainly be a negative impact on the health of your constituents and the NHS

Professor Andrew Goddard, RCP president

“We are confident that officials are working hard to protect patients, whatever the outcome. Yet the public rightly expects candour from health professionals, and we have ultimately been unable to reassure our patients that their care won’t be negatively impacted by the UK exit from the EU.”

The letter refers to concerns frequently raised by members and fellows over access to medicines and medical devices, the workforce supply from the EU and beyond, the funding of medical research, and the particular risks to patients in Northern Ireland.

Professor Goddard adds that he understands the 'difficult choices' faced by MPs following the referendum and acknowledges that they would never knowingly jeopardise the safety of their constituents, but asks them to bear in mind the concerns of doctors when they vote today.

The letter in full

I am writing to you ahead of today’s important vote to ask you to keep in mind the concerns of physicians about the impact on patients of the UK leaving the EU without an agreement. At this, a milestone moment in the process of leaving the EU, I’m taking the unusual step of writing to all MPs to ensure that the genuine concerns of clinicians and patients are heard.  

Throughout the negotiations, the RCP has been clear that patients and patient safety must be a priority. That is why we have worked closely with the Department for Health and Social Care, NHS England and colleagues in the devolved nations to support preparations. 

We are confident that officials are working hard to protect patients, whatever the outcome. Yet the public rightly expects candour from health professionals, and we have ultimately been unable to reassure our patients that their care won’t be negatively impacted by the UK exit from the EU. 

We continue to receive regular emails from our fellows and members on the potential impact of a no deal scenario. They focus on access to medicines and medical devices, the workforce supply from the EU and beyond, the funding of medical research, and the particular risks to patients in Northern Ireland. 

We are under no illusion as to the difficult choices faced by MPs following the referendum on EU membership. We also know that MPs take the safety of their constituents seriously and would never knowingly jeopardise it.  As a clinician, I am used to weighing up the potential costs and benefits of a particular course of action.  

But I am acting on the very real concern of doctors and patients that, if the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, there will almost certainly be a negative impact on the health of your constituents and the NHS. I know you will bear those concerns in mind when you vote today.