EU workers’ healthcare qualifications to be recognised after Brexit

Regardless of which side of the Brexit debate you are on, the Government has recently provided some much needed clarity to the health sector. The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed that health and social care workers with professional qualifications from the EU will be able to continue to practise in the UK, even in the event of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit.

Currently all EU member states, including the UK (for the time being), abide by the terms of Mutually Recognised Professional Qualifications (MRPQs)Directive. There had been concerns that following the UK’s departure from the EU, other European countries’ MRPQs would not be recognised in the UK. The Government has now implemented legislation to guarantee that MRPQs in the health and social care sector will continue to recognised post-Brexit.

The Healthcare (European Economic Area and Switzerland) Act 2019 will ensure that health and social care professional qualifications from EU and Swiss institutions will continue to be recognised after the UK has left the EU. This will apply to qualifications which are currently registered with the relevant UK regulatory body.

The legislation has been welcomed by many in the health sector for providing much needed clarity at a time of continued political uncertainty. Over 60,000 workers in the NHS and around 100,000 workers in the social care sector qualified in the EU or Switzerland. As a result of this legislation, their qualifications will not lapse, and they will be able to continue to work in the health and social care sector, even in the event of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit.

The qualifications, training, and experience of the health and social care workers from the EU or Switzerland will now continue to be accepted by all the major UK regulatory bodies, including the General Medical Council, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the General Pharmaceutical Council, the General Dental Council, and the Health and Care Professions Council.

The Health and Social Care Minister, Stephen Hammond MP, has sought to reassure employers, stating that he does not anticipate there being any need for NHS or social care employers to change the existing employment contracts of EU workers if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. There were also fears that EU workers in the NHS might need to re-apply for their jobs after Brexit. This has also been ruled out by Mr Hammond.

The Government has also established the EU Settlement Scheme, whereby EU workers who have lived in the UK for 5 years or more can apply for ‘settled status’. Those who have lived in the UK for under 5 years can apply for ‘pre-settled status’. This is particularly important for the 5,000 EU workers who have started working in the NHS since the EU referendum back in 2016.

For more information on the potential impact of Brexit on your workforce, please contact a member of the Hempsons Employment Team.