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Keeping EU Nationals in NHS is Top Priority, says Health Secretary

In first speech as the re-elected Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt has said that securing the status of EU nationals working in the National Health Service (NHS) will be a top priority for the Government in Brexit negotiations.

Hunt has promised more capital funding for the NHS and legislative change to support the Five Year Forward View (FYFV). He also hinted at improving the pay award for nurses, suggesting he would lobby the Treasury for a better deal.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool, Jeremy Hunt said that the 150,000 EU nationals employed in health and social care were doing ‘an absolutely brilliant job’. He said NHS needs these people and the ministers 'want them to stay'. EU staffs are part of the NHS family and securing their status in England is government top priority.

He further added that the NHS needed to be “creative about dealing with staff shortages and gaps”, saying there were things the government can do and things trusts can do. These include creating flexible career paths into nursing and other roles, such as the nurse apprenticeship scheme starting in September.

Commenting on Health Secretary speech, Dr Mark Porter, the chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) said that the Government must guarantee that NHS funding keeps pace with other European nations, and EU doctors in the UK are protected from the impact of Brexit.

With Brexit negotiations starting in a matter of days, BMA welcome the Health Secretary's promise that certainty for EU nationals in the health and social care system is one of his top priorities, Mr Hunt added.

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