Responding to the Government’s proposal on ‘settled status’ for EU citizens after Brexit, RCN Chief Executive Janet Davies has called on the Government to make a firm promise to honour their commitments or face a further exodus of nursing staff.
‘EU nationals need a firm commitment from Government that even in the case of no-deal, today’s promises still hold,’ she said. ‘The recent history of Windrush and threatening EU nationals with deportation is not encouraging.
‘There are 40,000 unfilled nurse jobs in the NHS in England alone and that number would rise further if EU nationals felt no choice but to leave. European nurses have put up with two years of uncertainty, mixed messages and even being used as bargaining chips.’
Under the terms of the scheme, the Government has pledged to fast track the registration process, with decisions being made in days, rather than, as is the case now, months. ‘With the scheme, we’re meeting our commitment to secure the rights of EU citizens who are already in this country, contributing in so many ways, they’re working, they’re studying, or for other reasons,’ said Home Secretary Sajid Javid.
‘We want them to stay and we want to make that process of staying as easy as possible.’
But the RCN remains sceptical. “The RCN is willing to work with Government to test the scheme and ensure it is genuinely simple and fast, as intended,’ says Ms Davies. ‘But with millions of applications likely before next March, EU nurses need assurances that Home Office personnel and IT will be able to meet this challenge, and costs kept to a minimum.’