In the event of a no-deal Brexit, EEA nationals will be required to prove their rights in the UK in order to access free treatment on the NHS from the date that Brexit occurs (currently scheduled for 31 October 2019).
The Department of Health have stated that “EU citizens living lawfully in the UK on the day of Brexit will be able to continue to use the NHS as long as they can demonstrate that they live in the UK on a lawful and properly settled basis”.
Currently, only 1 million, of the 3 million EEA nationals residing in the UK have registered under the EU Settlement Scheme, meaning that there are potentially 2 million citizens who will be required to evidence their residence in the UK by other means. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the deadline to register under the EU Settlement Scheme will be 31 December 2020. It is therefore unclear how EEA nationals, who are not yet required to have registered under the Settlement Scheme, should be proving their rights to access the NHS, as they are entitled to.
There has been an outcry from across the medical profession who believe that the already stretched NHS should not be required to carry out immigration checks on European nationals. Lobby groups that support the rights of EEA nationals have highlighted that this will cause chaos in the NHS and will likely lead to huge issues for EEA nationals who are eligible for free healthcare but who have not yet received the status confirming this right.
It is unclear if the government will respond to the extensive criticism this issue has generated. However, to ensure that all EEA nationals are able to access the NHS without issue, it is highly advisable that they apply under the Settlement Scheme at the earliest opportunity.
Gherson has extensive experience in assisting applicants with applications under the EU Settlement Scheme. For further information, please contact us.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.
Trainee solicitor in our Corporate Team