Writing in a blog post, GMC chairman Professor Terence Stephenson said his understanding was that doctors from Europe and other countries already on the UK register would not lose this status if the UK leaves the EU.
The vote to leave will also have ‘inevitable’ consequences for the way doctors are regulated as UK laws are disentangled from those set out by the EU, he warned.
He added that the regulator was seeking to address how doctors from EU countries will access the UK register in the future, and this will ‘depend on the outcome of negotiations’ with the EU.
Professor Stephenson said: ‘There is much uncertainty just now. Following the referendum vote in favour of the UK leaving the EU, there is understandable anxiety among doctors and other healthcare staff who have come from other parts of the European Economic Area.
‘Although withdrawing from Europe will inevitably have implications for the way we regulate doctors, we understand that the vote to leave the EU should not have any impact on the registration status of any doctor already on the register.
‘We will also be seeking to address how in future doctors from the EEA will access the UK medical register, how we and other countries can share information about doctors to maintain the integrity of the register, and what the implications are for UK doctors who wish to work in Europe once the UK is no longer a member state.
‘The answers will of course depend on the outcome of the UK’s negotiations about our future relationship with the EU. However one thing is clear – doctors from the rest of Europe have made and continue to make a vital contribution to the UK’s health services and to the medical research for which this country is held in high esteem.’
There are around 19,000 doctors from the European Economic Area (EEA) – which encompasses those from EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – working in the UK, totalling around 8% of overall doctors licensed.