Losing EU nationals from public services would put users at risk, warns TUC

2 Mar 17

Almost 150,000 NHS and adult social care workers are at risk of losing their right to work in the UK after Brexit, the Trades Union Congress has warned.

According to an analysis by the TUC, 145,200 NHS and adult social care workers would be at risk of losing their right to remain in the UK after Britain leaves the European Union.

The regional breakdown found that services in London would suffer from the most, as 13% of care workers and 9.8% of NHS staff in the city are EU migrants. In the South East region, 10% of care workers and 6.1% of NHS workers are EU migrants. Least affected would be the North East, where 2% of care workers and 1.5% of NHS personnel are migrants from the EU.

The TUC, which represents around 50 unions in the UK, called on the government to confirm “unilaterally” the right to remain in the UK for EU residents already working here. Otherwise, gaps in staffing post-Brexit could have damaging consequences for public services, potentially putting NHS patients and care users at risk.

General secretary Francis O’Grady, accused the government of creating “appalling uncertainty for thousands of NHS workers and care workers,” which was a “terrible way to treat dedicated public servants.”

He said that adult social care and the NHS would “struggle to cope” if these workers were forced to leave as a consequence of Brexit, and called on the prime minister, Theresa May to guarantee the right to remain before Brexit negotiations begin.

“It’s the right thing to do. And it will regain some of the goodwill Britain needs to negotiate the best possible Brexit deal.”  

In the aftermath of the referendum result in June, a coalition was formed by 29 health and social care organisations to lobby the government to grant the right to EU citizens to remain in the UK.

The government’s Brexit Bill is currently facing opposition in the House of Lords, with peers from all parties appearing to back extra protections for EU citizens.

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