The government’s ‘no-deal’ Brexit arrangements for EU citizens add to the uncertainty that trusts face in recruiting and retaining the EU staff that they need to operate, NHS Providers have warned. They said adding new barriers for people who want to work and live in the UK will cause patients and services to suffer.
Earlier this week, home secretary Sajid Javid announced the government’s policy for EU citizens coming to the UK to visit, study, work or join family if the UK leaves the EU with no Brexit deal. The arrangements will also apply to citizens of Switzerland arriving after a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. This guidance said that, if there is no deal:
- EU citizens arriving in the UK who wish to stay longer than three months and apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain will be subject to identity, criminality and security checks before being granted permission to stay for three years.
- Non-EU family members who wish to accompany an EU citizen under these arrangements will need to apply in advance for a family permit.
- EU citizens will be able to enter and leave the UK as they do now, using e-gates when travelling on a biometric passport.
- The initial three months’ leave to enter for EU citizens will be free of charge but applications for European Temporary Leave to Remain will be paid for. Fees will be set out at a later date.
- Irish citizens will not need to apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain and will continue to have the right to enter and live in the UK under the Common Travel Area.
- EU citizens wishing to stay for longer than three years will need to make a further application under the new skills-based future immigration system, which will begin from 2021.
NHS Providers’ deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, warned: “This announcement only adds to the uncertainty faced by trusts as they look to recruit and retain the EU staff they need.
“Given the scale of skills and staff shortages in health and social care we cannot afford to put up new barriers that will deter these workers from choosing to live and work in the UK.
“Ultimately it is patients and service users who will suffer if we cannot attract and retain the staff we need.
“The recent NHS Long-Term Plan acknowledged the scale of the workforce challenges facing the health service, and we are closely involved in detailed work that’s under way to address these problems. But this approach to a no deal scenario would make that task even harder.”
Last night parliament backed an amendment rejecting a 'no-deal' Brexit, despite government opposition. However, because that vote was not binding, the date for exit remains 29 March regardless of what happens in Theresa May’s further talks with EU leaders.