Hospital Dr News

EU migrants working in the NHS will be able to stay post Brexit, PM suggests

Medical leaders have welcomed the Prime Minister’s commitment to EU citizens living in the UK following Brexit.

In a high profile speech on Brexit, Theresa May has said there should be a two-year transition period after leaving Europe, during which trade should continue on current terms.

EU migrants will still be able to live and work in the UK but they will have register with the authorities, under her proposals.

And the UK will pay into the EU budget so member states are not left out of pocket.

Danny Mortimer, co-convenor of the Cavendish Coalition, which offers advice on the health and social care implications of Brexit, said: “We welcome the Prime Minister’s positive message on the issue of guarantees for EU citizens already working in the UK.

“The Cavendish Coalition will continue to encourage the Government quickly and straightforwardly to enable indefinite leave to remain to the 165,000 EU staff working tirelessly to provide the best possible health and social care across our nations.

“We are clear that social care and health care will need to continue to recruit from the EU after Brexit, as well as the rest of the world, to fill vacancies that can’t be filled domestically.

“In the short to medium term it is not feasible to meet current health and social care sector staffing needs through either additional domestic recruitment or training activity alone.”

The PM hopes her new offer, made in a speech in Italy, will unblock Brexit talks.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier described the speech as “constructive” and said the prime minister had shown “a willingness to move forward”.


Dr Andrew Dearden, BMA treasurer, said: “It is a step in the right direction that the Prime Minister has made positive indications that EU citizens’ rights to remain in the UK would be part of the British negotiating position and there was an acknowledgment of the importance of discussing a “soft border” approach between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

“Overseas doctors have made an outstanding contribution to the NHS over the course of many decades. It is important we continue to have a flexible immigration system that allows the NHS to recruit doctors from the EU, especially to areas of medicine and parts of the UK, with significant staff shortages, such as emergency medicine and general practice. Doctors working in the UK must have a right to remain, with their families, after Brexit.

“However, there remains a continued and unhelpful level of uncertainty about the details behind the Prime Minister’s warm words today, which in some cases contained pledges that have been made before. There is still no clarity on how freedom of movement will operate after the UK’s agreement with the EU comes to an end on this matter. The proposed registration system for new arrivals must not add an unnecessary administrative burden on the NHS or deter doctors from coming to work in the UK.

“Given we are only 18 months away from exiting the EU, we need to be reaching solutions to the challenges the NHS is facing and ending the damaging ambiguity that currently exists.”

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