Brexit and Northern Ireland – a unique set of challenges

Northern Ireland round table 1

Trust and government representatives from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland gathered in Lough Neagh this week (21 February), to identify the issues both areas face and that must be considered in Brexit discussions, to ensure sustainable health and care services.

In an event hosted by the Northern Ireland NHS Confederation, delegates shared their key areas of concern and discussed their own perspectives on what the government needs to address when considering the impact of Brexit for the UK and the EU.

With the UK’s only land border with the EU, Brexit poses a unique set of challenges for Northern Ireland and the Republic. Current practice such as cross-border staffing and consistency in professional regulation may not be possible, post-Brexit.

While these challenges are substantial, the key learning from the day was the challenges are also shared, with all parties agreeing the same primary focus: to ensure an adequate supply of qualified and safe health and care practitioners. The issues that are key to achieving this were also widely agreed on and included:

  • cross-border recognition of professional qualifications
  • cross-border consistency in employment regulation
  • recognition of the psychological impact on existing staff
  • the need for greater access to workforce data
  • fast and efficient communication of new and emerging policies.

A discussion paper for Confed members is being drafted following the event, and the key elements of this will be used in the Cavendish Coalition’s discussions with government, to ensure the unique challenges faced by the island of Ireland are understood and represented in Brexit discussions.

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