Stur­geon: NHS staff are quit­ting Scot­land be­cause of ‘hos­tile’ set­tled sta­tus fee

Daily Record - - NEWS - BY ANDY PHILIP [email protected]­

NURSES are turn­ing away from Scot­land be­cause of “hos­tile” Brexit fees im­posed on Euro­pean na­tion­als, Ni­cola Stur­geon warned.

The First Minister ex­posed the im­pact on vi­tal pub­lic ser­vices such as the NHS, which em­ploys about 13,000 EU cit­i­zens.

Stur­geon wants Theresa May to ditch the £65 “set­tled sta­tus” fees they are forced to pay be­cause of Brexit.

“It is un­ac­cept­able that the UK Gov­ern­ment in­sist on charg­ing EU cit­i­zens, in­clud­ing chil­dren, a fee to ap­ply for a sta­tus they are al­ready en­ti­tled to,” she said.

“EU cit­i­zens work­ing in our pub­lic ser­vices are cru­cial to their suc­cess­ful de­liv­ery.

“It is of great con­cern that the more bar­ri­ers the UK Gov­ern­ment place on en­abling peo­ple to stay in the UK, the more peo­ple could be forced to leave. In Scot­land, we are al­ready see­ing a drop in ap­pli­ca­tions from nurses from across the EU – and that is hardly sur­pris­ing given the hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment be­ing cre­ated by UK Gov­ern­ment pol­icy.”

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment vowed to pay the fee for peo­ple in de­volved ser­vices but the UK Gov­ern­ment won’t let them cover the cost up front. It means EU na­tion­als have to pay the charge and wait to be re­im­bursed at tax­pay­ers’ ex­pense.

For­eign EU na­tion­als make up about 3.5 per cent of the health and so­cial care work­force, the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment said.

In so­cial care alone, 7.3 per cent of all reg­is­tered nurses and 5.5 per cent of all staff come from other Euro­pean nations.

The £65 fee af­fects about 223,000 peo­ple in Scot­land. It is part of the EU Set­tle­ment Sta­tus pro­gramme which opens in March when the UK is sup­posed to for­mally quit the EU.

The UK Gov­ern­ment planned to ex­tend the scheme to EU cit­i­zens who have lived in Bri­tain for more than five years by the end of 2020. But the cut-off might be by March 29 next year if Bri­tain quits with­out a deal.

The Bri­tish Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion have warned Brexit is caus­ing “a great deal of anx­i­ety”.

About one in 10 doc­tors in the UK is from other EU states.

Dr John Terry, the BMA’s in­ter­na­tional com­mit­tee chair­man, said the set­tled sta­tus pro­gramme of­fers re­as­sur­ance that rights will be pro­tected.

But he added that Gov­ern­ment faced the prospect of hav­ing to process more than three mil­lion ap­pli­ca­tions in 18 months – more than 5000 peo­ple a day – if all EU cit­i­zens liv­ing in the UK ap­plied.

He said: “The key ques­tion is whether the sys­tem will be able to cope.”

DITCH THE FEE First Minister

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