Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust has become the latest NHS provider to offer to pay the “settled status” application fees for any EU nursing staff who want to stay in the UK after Brexit.
In a letter to all EU staff, chief executive Bruno Holthof made it clear the trust would cover the costs of applying for settled status for those who wished to continue living and working in the UK.
“Regardless of Brexit, we want you to stay with us”
The organisation is the latest to make the pledge to pay the £65 application after a number of trusts in London offered to do the same.
Dr Holthof, who is himself Belgian, wrote to more than 1,500 EU staff to make it clear the organisation was very keen for them to stay on.
“Like me, more than 1,500 staff working for Oxford University Hospitals are nationals of other European nations,” he wrote.
“As the UK’s planned withdrawal from the EU – Brexit – on 29 March 2019 draws closer, I want to let you know that, regardless of Brexit, we want you to stay with us at OUH.”
He told employees that the contribution of staff from the EU – and all over the world – was “one of the strengths of the NHS in general and OUH specifically”.
“Regardless of Brexit, we want all EU nationals currently working at OUH to stay with us and the trust board’s decision to cover the costs of the application fee for settled status is a symbol of our commitment to our valued colleagues,” said the letter.
Settled status is a new immigration route for EU nationals and family members to apply to stay in the UK after 31 December 2020 – the end of the Brexit transition period.
The EU Settlement Scheme is due to open to all EU citizens and their family members by March 2019 but until then is being rolled out in stages, starting with a small-scale trial at a number of NHS trusts and universities in the North West.
The pilot was due to be rolled out to all health and social care staff across the UK at the end of last month but – as reported by Nursing Times – the launch was delayed to allow for tweaks to the application process.
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However, the Home Office has since confirmed this latest phase is now open for applications from nurses and others.
Family members will not be able to apply at this stage unless they also work in health and social care.