BMA responds to UK position paper on Ireland border

European Union Ireland


Commenting on a paper published today which suggests that the UK government does not want any border posts between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland post Brexit, Dr Andrew Dearden, BMA treasurer, said:

“We absolutely agree that we should maintain a soft border after Brexit to help ensure that cross-border health services and patient access to healthcare are not affected by leaving the EU. Introducing border restrictions would risk reversing this progress and damaging patient care.

“As separate health services, Northern Ireland and the Republic often do not have sufficient demand to provide cost-effective, highly specialist medical services, such as the all-island children’s cardiac service. The only viable way to provide these services to patients is to deliver them on an all-island basis, and to do this we would need to ensure that doctors and patients can move freely across the border.

“Over the last two decades, a significant growth in the provision of all-island healthcare has improved care for patients and allowed both Northern Ireland and the Republic to retain highly trained doctors, who otherwise may not have had the patient demand necessary to warrant their full-time expertise.”


Notes to editors

  1. The BMA has previously warned that cross-border health services and patient access to healthcare, including the cooperation of emergency services and other organisations in response to major emergencies and public health risks, must not be impeded following Brexit.
  2. The BMA is also calling on the UK government to safeguard the future of vital health services by ensuring that doctors in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland maintain the ability to move freely between both countries, and that mutual recognition of professional qualifications between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland continues.
  3. Cross-border co-operation with regards to healthcare has increased in recent years. Figures show that between 2003 and 2015, more than €40m was invested in cross-border health and social care initiatives via CAWT (Co-operation and Working Together), with additional projects amounting to €53m submitted in relation to acute hospital services, prevention and early intervention, tackling health inequalities and other services.