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London Assembly calls for guarantees for EU health workers in London

RCN London backs calls to protect rights of EU nationals

22 Feb 2018

The London Assembly Health Committee is calling on the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the government to explore providing sector-specific guarantee for EU nurses and other healthcare workers in London, ending any uncertainty around their future status.

The London Assembly Health Committee is calling on the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the government to explore providing sector-specific guarantee for EU nurses and other healthcare workers in London, ending any uncertainty around their future status.  

RCN London has backed the move – made in a letter to Sadiq Khan - saying that it would give much needed reassurance to the vast numbers of healthcare staff in the capital as well as the services they work in. 

The letter is the Assembly’s fourth Brexit-Directive sent to the Mayor since the UK voted to leave the European Union. The letter also addresses the controversy around the removal of nursing bursaries, calling on the Mayor to “ask if the removal of nursing bursaries was the right decision for our NHS.”

Chair of the London Assembly Health Committee, Dr Onkar Sahota said: 

Last summer, our EU Exit Working Group heard that continued uncertainty is having a significant effect on EU nationals’ quality of life and decisions about their future.

‘EU nurses and doctors are skilled professionals and if they’re uncertain about their status in the UK, they leave the NHS. We welcome the Phase 1 Brexit agreement but it doesn’t provide enough reassurance for EU citizens. An agreement in principle is not the same as a guarantee.’

In Phase 1 the government agreed that as of 29 March 2019, EU citizens living in the UK for five years would be able to stay indefinitely by applying for ‘settled status’ with those in the country less than five years permitted to stay until they have reached the five year threshold. They can then apply for ‘settled status’.

However, the rights of those arriving after 29 March 2019 and during the transition period were put in doubt after the Prime Minister said they would not enjoy the same rights as those who arrived before them. 

The RCN has previously called on the Government to consult on immigration arrangements for after Brexit while the Migration Advisory Committee assesses the impact on public services.

In response to the Assembly’s Directive, RCN London Operational Manager Jude Diggins, said:

 ‘London’s health settings employ double the national average of EU nursing staff and a third of all EU nurses in the country live and work in the capital. Without them, and In the face of an abject failure by the government to train enough home-grown nurses, many care services would simply cease to function.

 ‘EU colleagues who have given so much to our health service deserve to be given definitive security about their right to remain - the vital health services that rely on their skills need to know if their staff have permission to stay in London.

 ‘In its negotiations the government must seriously and with urgency put the right to remain for EU healthcare workers front and centre and move fast to guarantee the rights of EU nurses who arrive during the transition period.

 ‘The 7,000 EU nurses who work in the capital are living proof that a career in nursing In London remains exciting and rewarding. The government must ensure this remains the case by making it loud and clear that nurses from the EU are welcome and valued.’

If you are a member and have a query regarding immigration, please call RCN Direct on 0345 772 6100.