NHS trusts who have helped EU citizen members of staff cover the cost of their settled status application will be reimbursed the expenses they incurred, the Government has said.
Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Ms May said that ‘having listened to concerns from members and organisations like the3million group’, the Government will no longer request EU citizens to pay the application fee when the scheme is rolled out in full on 30 March.
The Prime Minister’s decision comes after several NHS trusts last year decided to pay the fee on behalf of their EU staff.
In a factsheet on the EU settled status scheme published yesterday, the Government specified that ‘EU citizens who have taken part in the private and public test phases’ will have their fee reimbursed.
Welcoming Ms May’s announcement, NHS Providers deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery said they are looking forward to seeing the Government reimbursing NHS trusts who have already covered the fee for their EU staff.
Ms Cordery added: ‘Any step that helps trusts recruit and retain EU staff is welcome, but we must continue to do all we can to offer further reassurances and thanks for this vital and much valued part of the health and social care workforce.
‘We need both short term and long term solutions to address the workforce challenges the NHS faces. This is still the number one priority for trusts.’
According to a recent report commissioned by the Cavendish Coalition, the NHS could be short between 5,000 and 10,000 nurses after Brexit, adding to the 41,722 posts that are currently vacant.
NHS staff at 12 hospital trusts in North West England took part in an initial pilot in August last year – which was open exclusively to them and to three universities in Liverpool.
Another private beta test with organisations including higher education institutes and local councils later followed.
A third testing phase of the settlement scheme opened yesterday, and this time all EU citizens and their families will be able to apply. All citizens taking part in this phase will be fully reimbursed, the Government said.
BMA International Committee chair Dr Terry John said: ‘It is a positive step forward that Government has announced that it will be scrapping the settled status fee and will reimburse any applicant who has already paid.
‘The NHS is dependent on the valuable contribution of doctors from overseas, with one in thirteen of our workforce coming from European Union countries.
‘The government must, as the BMA has consistently pointed out, ensure that EU doctors are encouraged to remain in our workforce.’