EU citizens encouraged to stay in Scotland

Health Secretary urges EU nationals to continue to work in Scotland’s NHS.

As the UK prepares to leave the European Union, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has written to all EU nationals working in Scotland’s health and social care services to thank them for the work they do and to stress that they are welcome in Scotland.

The Scottish Government has produced a package of support to help EU citizens stay in Scotland, including £250,000 to fund community based support across Scotland and a national support and advice service for all citizens in Scotland affected by the UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme.

Ms Freeman said:

“I know many EU citizens living and working in Scotland are feeling increasingly uncertain now that Brexit is upon us and many will share the sadness I feel that Scotland is being taken out of the EU against our wishes.

“I am fortunate that almost every day I get to see the hard work and dedication of our NHS and care staff; staff born and raised in Scotland, staff from elsewhere in the UK and staff from around the world. Our EU staff play a vital role in all of that and I am truly grateful for the work that you do.

“While the uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship with the EU will go on for some time, I want to reassure you that protecting your rights continues to be a top priority for me and for the Scottish Government.

“My message to everyone from the EU who lives and works here is Scotland is your home, you are our family, and we’d be privileged if you would stay here with us.”


A copy of the Cabinet Secretary’s letter is below.

I am writing to you once again to repeat the message I have given in previous letters: you are welcome in Scotland and we want you to continue to live and work here. Your dedication and hard work is invaluable in continuing to deliver our health and social care services, and I am truly grateful for everything you do.

I understand that the continuing uncertainty around the UK’s relationship with the EU is a cause of great concern for many. I want to reassure you that protecting your rights continues to be my top priority.

The UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme has now been open for over nine months, and we know that 135,800 applications have been received from EU citizens and their families in Scotland. This is encouraging but it is only around 57% of the estimated total number of EU nationals living in Scotland.

We remain deeply concerned that EU citizens may fail to apply for ‘settled status’ due to lack of awareness of the Scheme and the requirement to apply. That is why the Scottish Government launched the Stay in Scotland campaign to raise awareness of the EU Settlement Scheme and highlight how much the Scottish Government values the contributions made by all EU citizens living and working in Scotland. The campaign includes a package of support for EU citizens in Scotland, including a guide for EU citizens and a guide for employers of EU citizens. All the materials are available at:

We are also funding Citizens Advice Scotland to deliver an advice and support service for those affected by the UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme. This service is for anyone who would like to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme but who may need additional help. EU citizens can receive information, advice and support by calling a national freephone helpline on 0800 916 9847 or by visiting your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau.

Again, thank you for the work you do, and the contribution you make to the health, care and wellbeing of Scotland as a whole. We value you greatly.

Jeane Freeman


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