The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP) has welcomed the news that the government is axing the plan for EU nationals living in the UK to pay a fee of £65 to apply to remain in the UK after it leaves the European Union at the end of March.
Prime minister Theresa May revealed the plans this week as the government seeks a way forward following the rejection by Parliament of the deal agreed with the EU. As well as the fee being waived going forward, it also means those who applied during the pilot phase will be reimbursed.
The CSP believes this will make an important difference in ensuring physiotherapists from the EU are happy to stay in the UK.
Chief executive Karen Middleton said the move will come as a "relief" to European physios and students, as well as other health workers from the EU. She also noted this saves money for healthcare providers who "felt obliged" to pay the workers' fees for them.
She added: "About seven per cent of the physiotherapy workforce are from Europe. Although physiotherapy is seeing a growth in the numbers of students training in the UK, we will not meet the needs of our aging population if we lose our overseas national physios and physio support workers. They are valued colleagues and critical to the delivery of services."
In announcing the abolition of the fee, the prime minister said she had listened to the concerns of EU citizens, of which around 3.5 million presently live in the UK. There will also be a new app launched shortly that can be used to complete the process online.
The government had previously made just one concession on the issue of the fee, when in October last year it launched a £9 million fund to support vulnerable EU citizens to help them complete the process.
Written by Matthew Horton
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