‘Grant EU nurses British citizenship for free’
The Institute of Public Policy Research think tank say the NHS would collapse without the contribution of EU nationals.
European Union (EU) nationals working in the NHS must be offered British citizenship to prevent the health service from collapsing, a leading think tank has warned.
June’s referendum vote for the UK to leave the EU has cast doubt on the future of European nationals living and working here and the government is yet to confirm their right to remain.
In a report published today, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) praised the vital contribution of EU nationals to the NHS, including around 33,000 nurses.
Indefinite leave to remain
All EU nationals working in the health service should be eligible to apply for British citizenship, the IPPR said.
Naturalisation requirements including paying a fee of £1,236 and living here for at least five years prior to applying for citizenship should also be waived.
The IPPR report said: ‘Without [EU nationals], the NHS would collapse.
‘It is critical to public health that these workers do not seek jobs elsewhere.’
Among its recommendations, the report called for all EU citizens legally living in the UK to be granted automatic indefinite leave to remain.
It said that their livelihoods should not be used as a bargaining chip in the Brexit negotiations.
RCN director of nursing, policy and practice Donna Kinnair said: ‘Without a guarantee that EU nationals working in the NHS can remain in this country it will be much harder to retain and recruit staff from the EU, and patient care will suffer as a result.’
In response to the report, a Home Office spokesperson said reducing the number of migrants coming to the UK will be a priority for the Brexit negotiations.
'The government is committed to reducing net migration to sustainable levels,' the spokesperson added.