Don’t Fear Brexit: Why now is the ideal time for Medical Professionals to head to the UK


It’s been a turbulent time across Britain’s political landscape. After months of back and forth following the “Leave” referendum result last year, we were then faced with a general election which, safe to say, provided a result that surprised all concerned.

Regardless of your political stance though, and of the recent Parliamentary result, all these developments will have a knock-on effect for Brexit negotiations, and where EU nationals and those considering a move to the UK alike, stand in terms of their residency.

Unsurprisingly, this topic has received a lot of press attention over the past few months, but recent developments suggest that, not only is it critical that more EU nationals join our NHS, but it’s also never been a better time for those individuals to make that move. If you’re a doctor, nurse or other medical professional considering this move, make sure you read on…

What’s in the news?

We’ve talked in the past about the level of strain on the NHS, and the vital role that EU nationals play in keeping it afloat. For example, as little as three years ago, the Guardian reported that people from more than 200 countries join to make up 11% of the overall staff count for health services within the UK.

These figures were revealed by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), and showed that the proportion of professionally qualified clinical staff who were foreign nationals increased to 14%, while 26% accounted for doctors. As a result of the findings, the British Medical Association (BMA) admitted that, without the contribution of non-British staff, “many NHS services would struggle to provide effective care to their patients”.

Tim Finch, from the Institute for Public Policy Research thinktank, commented: “People are still attracted to work in the NHS. Without them, we’d clearly be short – it would be very hard to replace that number overnight. If the single thread of immigration policy is just to get the overall figure down by any means, you’ve got to look at the consequences of that on the NHS.”

However, fast-forward to present-day, and we’re still seeing see a heavy dependence on EU nationals – shockingly, there has been a 96% drop in the number of EU nurses registering to work in Britain, since Brexit vote last year, and this is having huge repercussions. According to figures released by Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), July 2016 saw 1,304 EU nurses register to work in the UK, but this fell to just 46 in April 2017.

It was the Health Foundation who obtained the figures, and Anita Charlesworth, the charity’s Director of Research and Economics, told the press: “Without EU nurses, it will be even harder for the NHS and other employers to find the staff they need to provide safe patient care. The findings should be a wake-up call to politicians and health service leaders.”

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, added that the situation should force a notice of reassurance to EU nationals working in the NHS. She said: “We rely on the contributions of EU staff, and this drop in numbers could have severe consequences for patients and their families. These figures should act as a wake-up call to the government as they enter Brexit negotiations – EU staff should be left in no doubt that their contributions are welcome and valued.”

Won’t I be asked to leave?

So, we know that this has never been a better time for people to enter a medical position in the UK in terms of demand, but what about all these statements saying that EU nationals will be asked to leave? We can assure you that this is far from the case.

Although it’s mainly facts and figures like the above that have dominated the press, another angle covered is whether EU nationals will be forced out of the UK following March 2019. Ever since the vote, this has been a top concern for those currently living and working within Britain, as well as those considering a move here, but recent articles suggest otherwise.

According to an article by The Telegraph, the government is not only set to make the application and registration process far easier for those EU nationals with critical skills, but they will also grant nearly a million EU citizens the right to remain in the UK, despite not having achieved the five-year residency qualification.

This is all part of the “generous” package of measures which have been used to start Brexit negotiations. Keen to ensure that all who already live and work within the UK by March 2019 are properly taken care of, these measures will also guarantee that EU citizens are given “full equivalence” with the rights of UK citizens after Brexit Day.

Not only that, but the whole residency process will be “radically simplified” according to Whitehall spokespeople, as the current 85-page residency form sparked significant concerns with EU citizens. A new system will also be put in place for speed and efficiency, using the HMRC tax database to establish how long an individual has been a resident of the UK.

What should I do next?

All things considered, it’s never been a better time to consider that move to the UK. For one, it’s more than likely that the government will grant people residency within the UK prior to the official Brexit Day of March 2019, meaning that you’ll be a British citizen far sooner than usual.

On the other hand, our NHS is currently buckling under huge pressure from government bodies to maximise on efficiency, at a time when there has never been a higher demand for medical services. Not only will you be joining an institution that’s at the very heart of Britain and its citizens, but your skills are sought after in today’s hospitals and clinics across the country.

Of course, the first thing you need to do is seek the proper legal advice; there are many tests, forms and bodies involved to ensure that your position within the NHS is legal and above board, but it can be a complex area of law to follow. Such procedures are constantly changing, so it pays to have guidance from someone who understands these developments.

If you’re a medical professional in the midst of a move to the UK and you want to make sure you’re doing everything correctly, or you’re considering taking on a position within our NHS, make sure you get in touch with one of our advisors. We have years of experienced working with people just like you, so we know exactly which paperwork to do first and the kind of documentation you need. Our dedicated team is always on hand to give you advice, and you can call us on 020 7381 8111, or email us at law@hylton-potts.com.

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