Brexit could open doors for Aussie pharmacists to work in UK

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Britain’s decision to leave the EU may affect work arrangements and possibilities for Australians

Within the past decade, it has been difficult for movement to occur between the UK and Australia in either direction, for both pharmacists and other health professionals.

The UK has restricted work visas granted to non-EU countries such as Australia, most likely as a reaction to the number of workers entering the country through the EU’s freedom of movement policy.

“It’s been very difficult for Australian pharmacists to work in the UK since the mid-2000s,” says Heidi Dariz, general manager at pharmacy recruitment specialists Raven’s Recruitment.

“Australians currently need to complete 12 months of study followed by 12 months of intern training, before being able to register as a pharmacist in the UK.

“I’ve been working in the industry for over 14 years. We used to send over a hundred pharmacists to the UK to work, and now we have none.”

The Brexit decision could cut the flow of EU-related migrants, allowing Britain to take more non-EU citizens, or even enter into visa-free arrangements with countries like Australia.

“We would love to have reciprocal agreements back between the UK and Australia,” says Dariz.

“It would be great if the doors were opened again,” Australian pharmacist Andrew Tooms commented on the AJP forum.

It’s not all good news. UK pharmacists are worried the decision may impact their long-running battle to decriminalise dispensing errors.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) fears Brexit “may have repercussions on the timetable” in their push to end automatic criminal sanctions for inadvertent mistakes by pharmacists and their staff.

“The outcome of the vote may have repercussions on the timetable for government business – but we will be doing our utmost to progress this vital issue,” says RPS spokesperson Neal Patel.

“We are clear decriminalisation must remain high on the government’s agenda and are working with the Department of Health … to make sure this is so.”

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