Pro­posal to safe­guard ex­pats’ health­care af­ter Brexit

Par­lia­men­tary Bill in­tro­duced to im­ple­ment health­care deals

Costa Blanca News (South Edition) - - Front Page - By Jack Troughton jtroughton@cb­

BRI­TISH con­sul Sarah-Jane Morris is lead­ing a team of con­sulate ex­perts in a gru­elling 17-date road show to help Bri­tish na­tion­als get pre­pared for Brexit.

The out­reach pro­gramme started on Wed­nes­day in San Ful­gen­cio and Pi­lar del Ho­radada and con­tin­ues un­til De­cem­ber 18 with meet­ings from Mazarrón to De­nia – all de­signed to ad­vise and lis­ten to ex­pats.

One of the key mes­sages for Bri­tish na­tion­als liv­ing in Spain will be to en­sure they are cor­rectly reg­is­tered with the au­thor­i­ties to pro­tect them­selves af­ter the UK leaves the Euro­pean Union; which means sign­ing on their mu­nic­i­pal reg­is­ter – known as the ‘padron’ – and also be­com­ing of­fi­cial res­i­dents, ob­tain­ing a green ‘res­i­den­cia’ cer­tifi­cate from Na­tional Po­lice sta­tions.

Even in the un­likely sce­nario of ‘no-deal’, the con­sul be­lieves Spain will re­cip­ro­cate the Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s as­sur­ances to EU na­tion­als they re­main wel­come to live in the UK – but warned ex­pats must be on the radar to en­joy the rights of be­ing an of­fi­cial res­i­dent.

Speak­ing be­fore the start of the meet­ings, Mrs Morris said: “We are mak­ing a big push this au­tumn over the next few weeks and do­ing some out­reach meet­ings to raise aware­ness within the Bri­tish com­mu­nity about the im­por­tance of be­ing reg­is­tered.

“We will re­mind peo­ple who will fall in­side the with­drawal agree­ment and whose rights will be pro­tected – those who are legally res­i­dent at the time of de­par­ture; all on the as­sump­tion the deal will go through.”

She added: “Back to back, it looks and feels fairly in­tense. I think it is re­ally im­por­tant as we get nearer to the de­par­ture date when we leave, that peo­ple do start to get them­selves sorted out.”

Legally res­i­dent

“If you are legally res­i­dent and liv­ing in Spain, your rights will be re­spected. Theresa May has said the same about EU na­tion­als (liv­ing in the UK); say­ing ‘we want you to stay and your rights will be re­spected.’ We ex­pect rec­i­proc­ity even if there is no deal.

“And if you take that for­ward, ev­ery­one legally res­i­dent here should have their rights re­spected.”

Mrs Morris re­mains ‘very con­fi­dent’ a deal will be struck be­tween the UK and the re­main­ing 27 EU mem­ber states – and be­lieves even if there is no Brexit agree­ment, Bri­tish cit­i­zens within the sys­tem should be re­as­sured.

“I think the im­por­tant thing is that Theresa May has said ex­plic­itly to EU na­tion­als in the UK that she wants them to stay and their rights will be pro­tected,” she said. “That’s based on the as­sump­tion Spain will do the same for Bri­tish na­tion­als liv­ing here.”

Legally, peo­ple liv­ing in Spain should reg­is­ter with a town hall and ap­ply for res­i­dence sta­tus af­ter three months, hav­ing an NIE num­ber is not enough.

The Bri­tish con­sulate in Ali­cante is aware of grow­ing queues to reg­is­ter as a res­i­dent caus­ing frus­tra­tion; one of the is­sues it feeds back to the Span­ish govern­ment.

Iron out wrin­kles

But Mrs Morris said: “If you have any doubts, we are here to help. If the sys­tem is bro­ken in any way or there are wrin­kles in the sys­tem, let’s iron them out now and flag up to Spain any prob­lems.”

Her mes­sage is that peo­ple should not sit back and ‘wait and see’ but start the regis­tra­tion process.

“That’s the logic be­hind us get­ting out there not to say ‘you have still got time to sort your­selves out’,” she said.

Mrs Morris will open the meet­ings with a gen­eral up­date about Brexit and the im­por­tance of be­ing reg­is­tered be­fore al­low­ing a panel to an­swer peo­ple’s ques­tions.

Join­ing her at the meet­ings will be an expert on cit­i­zens’ rights, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of HMRC to help with tax mat­ters, the depart­ment of health, char­ity rep­re­sen­ta­tives and Brex­its in Spain, one of the groups cam­paign­ing for ex­pats post-Brexit.

“That’s the plan re­ally; we have been on the road quite a lot since the ref­er­en­dum but it is re­ally im­por­tant to raise aware­ness so peo­ple can­not say ‘I didn’t know I needed to be res­i­dent be­fore we leave’,” she noted.

Fur­ther in­for­ma­tion is avail­able on the Liv­ing in Spain site at web­site or fol­low­ing the Brits in Spain so­cial me­dia sites.

Sarah-Jane Morris

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