Hunt pledges to protect rights of EU nationals working in the NHS ahead of Brexit negotiations

Hunt, NHS Confed, Brexit
“It is an early priority for this government to secure rights which we would like be broadly the same as the rights they have now,” Hunt said at Confed17 in Liverpool last week

Health Secretary says securing rights of EU nationals after Brexit will be at the top of the list during negotiations

[Liverpool, UK] In his first speech following the 8 June snap general election, Jeremy Hunt pledged to protect the rights of EU nationals working in the NHS ahead of the start of Brexit negotiations today.

Adding that being responsible for the NHS has been the ‘biggest privilege’ of his life, Hunt paid tribute to NHS staff and their response in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London and the Grenfell Tower fire.

In a message sent last week, Hunt added: “These stories speak to a wider truth: NHS staff do an amazing job, often in the most difficult of circumstances.

“And it is this which brings us all together – our great belief in the NHS, what it stands for and what we believe it can be.”

However, at the annual conference of the NHS Confederation, Hunt acknowledged that there are certain areas where the NHS needs to make ‘particular progress’, saying that protecting the rights of the 150,000 EU nationals living in the UK and working for the NHS after Brexit will be at the top of the agenda during the negotiation process.

Brexit Health Alliance

Last Wednesday, it was also announced that Sir Hugh Taylor, former Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health, and Niall Dickson, NHS Confederation Chief Executive, will co-chair a Brexit Health Alliance, aimed to promote the importance of maintaining co-operation between the UK and the EU.

In a statement, Dickson said: “There is a risk that healthcare will become forgotten alongside the vast number of issues that the negotiators will have to address.

“It is vital we protect world leading research, that patients have access to medicines when they need them and that co-operation between the UK and Europe continues to protect all our citizens.”