PM ‘must guarantee EU health workers right to remain’

Prime Minister Theresa May must provide an "early reassurance" to 130,000 European medical and care staff working in the UK that they will be able to remain after Britain leaves the European Union, the head of the National Health Service has said.

NHS staff
So far, ministers in the new government have refused to guarantee EU citizens' right to remain after Brexit is formalised, saying the issue is dependent on UK citizens' continued rights to live and work on the continent.Writing in Tuesday's Daily Telegraph, Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said the health service would continue to be reliant on staff from abroad despite government initiatives to increase the number of home-grown workers.He said MRs May needed to embark on "bold and broad reforms" that would include protecting the rights of European doctors, nurses, care workers and other staff to stay in the country."As the largest employer in Europe, the NHS needs to do a better job training and looking after staff," Mr Stevens wrote. "New apprenticeships can help many 'left-behind' communities alienated from modern Britain. Even then, we're still going to need committed professionals from abroad."Australian-style immigration points systems all admit nurses, doctors and other skilled experts. It should be uncontroversial to provide early reassurance to foreign NHS employees about their continued welcome."Mr Stevens also criticised both the Remain and Vote Leave campaigns in the run-up to the June 23 referendum for dragging the NHS into the debate."The NHS wasn’t on the Brexit ballot. But it often felt as if it was. Emblazoned on the 'battle bus', both Leave and Remain wrapped themselves in the mantle of a strong and better funded health service," he said. "This was curious, as on the NHS there is no overriding need to 'take back control’. We already make the big decisions about our health system largely as we please, as do the Germans, the French and the rest."Mr Stevens' remarks came after Clare Marx, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said leaving the EU could lead to improved patient safety in the UK by allowing health bosses to "seize the moment" and toughen up English language entry tests for staff.A government spokesman said, "NHS staff make a huge contribution to our country and the government has been clear that it fully expects the legal rights of EU nationals already in the UK will be properly protected."

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Read analysis of what the vote to leave the EU may mean for for the global mobility industry in Brexit is a reality – a new era for global mobility? by Relocate Global's managing editor, Fiona Murchie.

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