Your views

Joan Pons Laplana: 'I've nursed in the UK for 17 years. I'm not a Brexit bargaining chip'

Joan Pons Laplana is urging people to support the campaign to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK
The 3 million

Joan Pons Laplana is urging people to support the campaign to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK

Picture credit: iStock

I came to the UK from Spain 17 years ago to pursue my dream of becoming a nurse and I have worked hard for the NHS ever since. I am one of the three million EU citizens who live in this country, but I feel that the government is treating us as a commodity at the Brexit table.

I love England and I have raised my family here. My kids are British. I have never had any problem or felt discriminated against, but since Brexit Ive started to feel like a second class citizen just because of my accent.

I have been attacked on social media and what makes me even more angry is that my kids are being

...

Joan Pons Laplana is urging people to support the campaign to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK

Picture credit: iStock

I came to the UK from Spain 17 years ago to pursue my dream of becoming a nurse and I have worked hard for the NHS ever since. I am one of the three million EU citizens who live in this country, but I feel that the government is treating us as a commodity at the Brexit table.

I love England and I have raised my family here. My kids are British. I have never had any problem or felt discriminated against, but since Brexit I’ve started to feel like a second class citizen just because of my accent.

I have been attacked on social media and what makes me even more angry is that my kids are being affected.

One year on

A year ago my 14 year old son asked me if I was going to be forced to go back to Spain if Brexit goes ahead and a year on I still have no answer for him. My daughter, aged 11, came home crying from school the other day and when I asked her why she told me that another child told her that I was not welcome in the UK and that I would be thrown out very soon. My daughter was heartbroken and asked me if that was true. I could not in all honesty answer no!

Brexit is not only affecting nurses already here. Applications from EU nurses wanting to come here have plummeted by 90%. The UK is no longer the first choice for EU nurses looking for a job. Also many of my colleagues who have been here less than five years are starting to leave because of the uncertain future.

Futures on hold

I know that NHS England has told us not to panic, but for how long must our lives and futures be on hold? The current situation is unacceptable. We are people with feelings not ‘negotiating capital’. The UK is our home and the government must guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK immediately and not, as has been hinted, at some distant point in the future.

Vague assurances are not enough. Our lives have been put in limbo since Brexit. We are facing an uncertain and bleak future in the wake of the referendum result and the anguish and ongoing stress that this is causing to individuals and families is immense.

We came to the UK in good faith and we have made our home and our lives here. We contribute on every level and in every sector of British society. Many EU nationals are already severely affected by the current Home Office stance and families are being torn apart.

Viral campaign

When this country is so short of nurses we cannot afford to put people off in this way. For that reason I'm helping to lead a social media campaign that has already gone viral. We’re using the hastag #BargainingChip and so far we have achieved millions of impressions.

You can follow the campaign on Twitter @the3million or on Facebook.

There's also a video explaining our situation and how we feel about it:

On February 20 we are planning to lobby MPs at the House of Commons and I hope nurses will support our campaign. We're encouraging people from across the UK to come to Westminster and ask their MP to press for unilateral action by the UK government before Article 50 to guarantee the rights of residence of EU citizens living in the UK.

The event is timed to coincide with the One Day Without Us national day of action. We're asking everyone who would like to take part in the mass lobby to register here.

I hope to see you there!


About the author

Joan Pons Laplana is a transformation nurse at James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Want to read more?

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursing standard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • Monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs