Having worked in the NHS for over 25 years, I know how tirelessly our doctors and nurses work, not least of all the role of those doctors and nurses who have come from overseas to provide us all with our world-leading National Health Service.
I completely understand concerns regarding the impact of our withdrawal from the European Union on foreign nationals working in the NHS. That is why I welcome the Government's repeated commitment that all EU nationals working in the UK will be able to remain in the country with the same rights as they enjoy today.
EU citizens are an important part of the economic, cultural and social fabric of our country and their rights needed to be secured. A new settled status scheme under UK law will be introduced for EU citizens and their family members, covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. This will ensure that EU nationals can continue to perform their vital roles across a range of sectors, in particular the health and care sector.
The latest NHS workforce statistics show that, far from the referendum result encouraging EU nationals working in the NHS to leave our country, there are over 4,300 more EU nationals working in the NHS than there were in June 2016. I would also note that the proportion of our NHS workforce made up by EU nationals has risen to 5.6 per cent, up from 3.1 per cent in 2010.
In terms of the new immigration policy, the new legislation will ensure that those with the skills we are short to avoid any immigration restrictions . It will enable more health care professionals from across the world, and not just the EU, to come and work in the NHS where currently they struggle to gain employment because of the restrictions of visas.
The aim of the new legislation is to enable a much more flexible system which will allow those with the sills we are short of to come and work and live here. This will make a huge difference to the NHS.