AoRMC Summary of UK Proposals on EU Citizens’ rights: what do they mean for the NHS?

Posted 11 July 2017

Date: 11 Jul 2017

Type: FSRH News and Information

Following the EU Commission’s proposals to safeguard the rights of EU citizens’ post-Brexit, The UK Government have published their proposals to safeguard the rights of EU nationals living in the UK, as well as proposals for a healthcare arrangement for UK citizens in Europe. The Academy of Royal Medical Colleges have summarised these proposals and explained what they might mean for the NHS:

Under the UK proposals, all EU nationals living in the UK lawfully for at least five years would be granted "settled status" and be able to bring over spouses and children. Those who come after an as-yet-to-be-agreed cut-off point will be given two years to "regularise their status".

During her statement to the House of Commons, the Prime Minister indicated a system of registration for EU nationals would be as streamlined and light-touch as possible, whilst some of the technical requirements for getting permanent residence will be removed. The UK Government expected the offer to be extended on a reciprocal basis to citizens of Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Regarding the rules that would apply to people coming to the UK after Brexit, the Prime Minister said the rules would be set out in the Immigration Bill.

The proposals include:

  • creating new rights in UK law for qualifying EU citizens resident in the UK before the UK's exit from the EU
  • these rights will be enforceable in UK law; the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) will not have jurisdiction in the UK
  • qualifying EU citizens will have to apply for their residence status; the administrative procedures will be kept as smooth and simple as possible
  • qualifying individuals will be granted “settled status” in UK law. This means they will be free to reside in any capacity and undertake any lawful activity, to access public funds and services and to apply for British citizenship
  • to qualify for "settled status", EU citizens must have been resident in the UK before a specified date and must have completed a period of five years’ continuous residence in the UK before they apply for settled status, at which point they must still be resident
  • the specified date will be no earlier than the 29 March 2017, the date the formal Article 50 process for exiting the EU was triggered, and no later than the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU - this date will be the subject of negotiations with the EU Commission
  • EU citizens who arrived and became resident before the specified date but who have not accrued five years’ continuous residence at the time of the UK’s exit will be able to apply for temporary status in order to remain resident in the UK until they have accumulated five years
  • the Government will seek to establish similar reciprocal arrangements with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland (the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) States) 
  • EU citizens with "settled status" will continue to have access to UK benefits on the same basis as a comparable UK national under domestic law
  • the UK will also seek to protect the ability of individuals who are eligible for a UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before the specified date to continue to benefit from free, or reduced cost, needs-arising healthcare while on a temporary stay in the EU, by seeking an ongoing arrangement akin to the EHIC scheme as part of negotiations on our future arrangements with the EU
  • the UK will seek to ensure that citizens with professional qualifications obtained in the EU27 prior to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will continue to have those qualifications recognised in the UK.

What does it mean for the NHS?

NHS employers can reassure their EU staff that if the EU accepts the UK Government’s proposals for safeguarding the position of EU citizens living in the UK (and vice-versa) post-Brexit, they and their family members will have continuity of existing rights (including residence, access to benefits and services). The Government also proposes no “cliff edge” and a “smooth and simple” procedure to enable EU citizens to apply for settled status, and will seek an ongoing arrangement similar to the EHIC scheme so that UK citizens can continue to access healthcare elsewhere in Europe, and vice-versa.
See more from AoMRC.

Jane Hatfield, CEO of FSRH, said:  

“This is a helpful summary from the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges explaining what the government is proposing regarding the rights of EU citizens in the UK post Brexit. The final paragraph looks at the impact on the NHS. We will aim to keep Faculty members updated on this issue as it is so key to maintaining the NHS workforce.”