NHS trusts set to trial settlement process for European nurses

Digital applications mean EU workers in UK could be granted settled status

Digital application process means EU workers in the UK will be eligible for 'settled' or 'pre-settled' status

  • Trial will involve 12 north west England NHS trusts
  • Scheme is still subject to approval by parliament
  • If eligible, all those who go through the process will be granted settled status
NHS and Brexit
Picture: iStock

European nurses working at 12 NHS trusts in north west England are set to trial the new application process for the EU settlement scheme planned as part of Brexit.

Up to 4,000 EU citizens working at the trusts – alongside students and staff from three Liverpool universities – will take part in a pilot of the new digital application process for the scheme from 28 August.

This initial pilot phase will be accessible by invite only and the applicants will be able to apply on a voluntary basis, after which the scheme will be rolled out in further phases from the end of 2018.

Robust workforce planning

Although the scheme’s details are still subject to approval by parliament, EU workers in the UK will be eligible for ‘settled’ status if they have lived in the UK for five continuous years, or ‘pre-settled’ status if not.

RCN regional director for north west England Estephanie Dunn said the move would enable the trusts involved to put ‘more robust’ workforce planning in place and deploy the right numbers of staff to deliver safe care.

Ms Dunn said: ‘EU nurses contribute significantly to the region's health and social care and bring with them a huge range of skills, expertise and knowledge.

‘The risk of losing this workforce would be devastating.

‘We therefore welcome the opportunity to get this process moving in our region at the earliest opportunity.

‘Providing these nurses the ability to plan their futures cannot be underestimated as a mechanism to stem the flow of EU nurses from the UK.’

Stretched services

Ms Dunn added that uncertainties and nervousness about Brexit had already seen EU nurses ‘leaving the NHS in their droves’.

She said: ‘While this is just one of the contributing factors to staffing shortages in our NHS Trusts, it is one that is placing significant and unprecedented pressure on already stretched services.’

An Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said: 'We are happy to take part in this private pilot phase of the government’s EU settlement scheme.

'It means staff who will be affected by these changes can voluntarily use the system during this phase to apply for settled status.'

Three key steps

Immigration minister Caroline Nokes said: ‘EU citizens make a huge contribution to our economy and society, and we want them to stay.

‘The EU Settlement Scheme will make it easier for EU citizens to get the status they need.

‘When it is launched they will only need to complete three key steps – prove their identity; show that that they live in the UK; and declare any criminal convictions.

‘We are inviting a small group of EU citizens to make an application to help us ensure the system will be ready when the roll-out begins later this year.’

Trials involve 12 trusts

The NHS trusts taking part are:

  1. Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  2. Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  3. Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  4. East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust
  5. Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  6. Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  7. Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust
  8. Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust
  9. The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust
  10. The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust
  11. Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  12. Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Application process

If eligible, all those who go through the process will be granted settled status, although certain features to be included in the settlement scheme application process will not be available.

Applicants will need to attend an appointment with a Home Office representative who will help to take them through the online application process.

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