Martin Schulz talks Brexit with Theresa May - photo: © European Parliament 2016
Several of her 12 goals reflect areas where the CSP has concerns for patients and members:
The prime minister aims to maintain the rights of EU nationals in the UK and British nationals in the EU, on a reciprocal basis. Guaranteeing these rights is important for EU physiotherapists and support workers across the UK and for British physiotherapists working in Europe. It is unclear, however, if this commitment includes continued access to health care on a reciprocal basis for all residents.
Rights at work
The government has committed to use UK regulations to ensure that workers’ rights are maintained. This is welcome, but we want to see the detailed proposals for regulations to ensure that they are indeed equivalent to EU protection.
A pledge to collaborate with Europe on major science, research and technology initiatives is welcome. It is less clear whether this will mean UK-based physiotherapy researchers will be able to access pan-European funding.
Common Travel Area
Teresa May also committed to maintaining unrestricted movement between the UK and Ireland. This is important for our members in Northern Ireland. Some work across the border and some patients from the Republic use services in Northern Ireland.
Whilst the focus on these areas is welcome, all are subject to negotiation with the EU and/or further UK legislation. It is therefore too early to say whether the outcomes will be what physiotherapists and their patients need.
There were some clear gaps in the goals which are of concern:
- NHS funding – a key campaign focus by the leave campaign was releasing funding for the NHS. There was no mention of funding for the NHS.
- Students – it is unclear whether student mobility is on the government’s agenda. Those already studying abroad may be covered by the proposed reciprocal rights for residents,. However, uncertainty remains over the future of student exchanges and the ability of EU students to study physiotherapy in the UK.