SCOTLAND’S top independent medical body the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh has issued a bombshell warning on the possible effect of a No-Deal Brexit on the NHS.

In a statement issued yesterday the Royal College (RCSEd) said it is extremely concerned about the potential effect a No-Deal Brexit could have on UK healthcare and patient safety.

The statement explained: “One area of concern is the mutual recognition of professional qualifications which currently allows EU doctors’ qualifications to be accepted across the EU. It has been confirmed that the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualification Directive will continue until 2020. Following this, further legislation comes into effect which will enable UK regulators to continue to recognise EEA and Swiss qualifications.

“It is essential that the qualifications of doctors, and other healthcare professionals, continue to be recognised permanently following Brexit.

“Doctors from the EU are essential to the running of the NHS and will remain a key resource in the years to come. We need to ensure it continues to be as easy as possible for the NHS to recruit EEA doctors, the alternative is an NHS under even more strain due to falling numbers of doctors.”

RCSEd President, Professor Michael Griffin OBE, said: “The NHS is under extreme pressure at the moment and one of the major causes is a recruitment crisis within the medical and nursing workforces.

“Teams are working harder than ever and it is vital to ensure that surgical teams are fully staffed in order to operate safely and ensure patient safety.

“A No-Deal Brexit, and along with it the potential for disruption to the recruitment of medical and nursing staff, could be extremely damaging to the NHS and have a knock-on impact on patient waiting times for elective operations. The Government must ensure that the recruitment of EEA medics and nurses is not hampered following Brexit.”

Meanwhile the Scottish Government is protesting that the UK Government’s No Deal immigration policy is “likely to be discriminatory” according to Ministers.

In the event of a No-Deal Brexit, the UK Government plans that students can obtain ‘leave to remain’ for three years. Those applying to Scottish universities will have no guarantee they will be able to complete their four year undergraduate courses.

Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said: “This wholly unnecessary policy puts Scottish universities at a competitive disadvantage. The Scottish Government and our higher education sector stand as one that this will discourage EU citizens applying to Scottish universities, as there is no guarantee they will be able to complete their courses.”