The BMA has joined a national campaign calling for the public to have a final say on the Brexit deal, warning that leaving the EU threatens to undermine healthcare across Europe.
The association is one of a number of national organisations backing calls by The Independent newspaper for the public to be given the final say on any Brexit deal.
An online petition launched by the paper’s editor Christian Broughton has already gained more than 380,000 signatures in just five days.
The BMA’s support for the campaign comes after members voted overwhelmingly in favour of opposing Brexit and in support of a second referendum, at this year’s annual representative meeting.
BMA treasurer Andrew Dearden said that in light of the many concerns thrown up by the UK’s Brexit negotiations with the EU, giving the public a final say was absolutely imperative.
He said: ‘We know that doctors are worried that Brexit could seriously undermine the provision of healthcare in the UK and Europe.
‘The challenges posed by Brexit are considerable and though there has been some progress, there is too much uncertainty around what the implications will be for doctors and the health service.
‘We already know, for example, that Brexit has already had a huge impact on the morale of EU NHS staff working here – our own research has shown us that almost half of NHS staff from the EU are considering leaving the UK because of the EU referendum.
‘Though concerns were raised prior to the Brexit vote, no one could have imagined the extent of the complications such a result would bring. However, in light of what we know now, it is imperative that the public has a say in any proposed Brexit deal.’
The BMA’s decision to back The Independent’s campaign comes following significant developments concerning Brexit and its potential impact on the NHS.
Last month, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock confirmed that medical products such as vaccines and blood products could be stockpiled ahead of a possible ‘no-deal’ Brexit next March.
Mr Hancock told the Parliamentary health select committee that the Government is working with the health sector and pharmaceutical industry on how best to prepare the health service in the event of the UK leaving with no deal in place.
He said that, while he was confident a deal would be reached in time, efforts needed to be stepped up to ‘mitigate the worst of the circumstances’ and that he had requested that work on these preparations be accelerated.
He said: ‘We are working right across government to ensure the health sector and industry are prepared, and that people’s health will be safe guarded in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
‘This includes the chain of medical supplies [such as] vaccines, medical devices, clinical consumables, blood products.’