Our EU Nurses Need Clarity Now.

There is growing concern amongst the nursing community in the UK regarding the government position on EU nationals following the Brexit transition period. The UK will formally leave the European Union on the 29th of March 2019. The plan is for a time-limited period (of approximately two years) before the eventual permanent arrangements for UK-EU relations – which have yet to be agreed – kick in.

However, other than an agreement in principle to protect the rights of those EU nationals during the transition period and to begin a registration process, the UK government does not appear to have made any firm decisions or plans regarding this matter.

The Home Affairs Select Committee, one of the groups set up to hold the government to account, published a report in which they clearly identify both the gaps in planning and resourcing that appear to exist in relation to carrying out Brexit.

From strategic decision making to the impacts on local HR departments within healthcare organisations, there is currently a vacuum of information and guidance. Some pro Brexit people (Brexiteers) are concerned that the transition period is simply a delaying tactic brought about by those who wish to remain in the EU. This is a reasonable concern, but given the lack of urgency currently being displayed by those facilitating the process, Brexit may come around before all of the ducks are in order.

There is little or no doubt about the valuable contribution made by our overseas colleagues. There is also very little doubt about the scale of the task laid before the UK government in the coming months and years. Every stakeholder from business, defence, environmental affairs and other areas will be banging their respective drums. Do the UK government have the capacity to respond to the needs of all of them before time runs out. It’s at times like this we need a strong representative for health and social care. Opinions remain divided as to whether Jeremy Hunt has the will or capacity to hold influence over the Department for Exiting The European Union. Will he beat his drum and will it be heard?

You can read the full Home Affairs Select Committee report here.

A BBC quick guide to the Brexit tansition can be found here.