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Health and social services

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Medicines and medical supplies
Free support for EU citizens working in health and social care
Reciprocal healthcare

Maintaining high-quality and safe health and social care remains our top priority now that we have left the EU and entered the transition period which runs until 31 December 2020. This period is also known as the Implementation Period, so you may also see that term.

We do not envisage any disruption to the day-to-day running of the NHS or social care services during this period. Local care and hospital services will continue to work as normal. This includes A&E care, social care, GP and dentist services.

Medicines and medical supplies

Clinicians should not write longer NHS prescriptions and people should keep doing what they’ve always done. That means only ordering prescriptions when they are needed, get it dispensed in the usual way and continuing to take it in the way it was prescribed.

If you have any concerns about your medicines or your regular prescription, you should talk to your local pharmacist in the first instance.

Free support for EU nationals working in health and social care

EU citizens have always been, and will continue to be welcome in Wales. Our EU colleagues play a valuable role in providing health and social care services in Wales and we value each person and the work they do.

EU citizens and their families living in the UK need to apply to the Home Office’s EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021. This will mean they can continue to live and work in Wales following the UK’s departure from the EU.

The Welsh Government has made a package of free support available to help EU citizens to live and work in Wales. To find out more about the help that is available visit the EU Citizens in Wales page.

The Home Office has published the following advice if you are an EU citizen; an organisation employing EU staff; or are recruiting from the EU:

  • EU citizens in the UK – Stay Informed, provides information about the citizens’ rights agreement and the Settlement Scheme for EU citizens in the UK.
  • A toolkit has been launched to equip employers with tools and information to support EU citizens and their families about the EU Settlement Scheme.

The UK government has launched a Prepare for EU exit campaign to give individuals and businesses advice about the preparations and the steps they may need to take.

Wales: EU nationals working in health and social care

In 2019, the Welsh Government commissioned Ipsos Mori to carry out research looking at the make-up of the social care and childcare workforce in Wales, to help identify how many EU nationals are employed in the sector in order to support them and their employers. The report found that an estimated 6.4% of staff within registered social care settings and 4.5% of staff within registered childcare services in Wales are non-UK EU nationals, showing that EU nationals make up a relatively small but important part of the workforce. However, when viewed against the broader context of existing staffing challenges in these sectors, the report indicates that the impact of the UK leaving the EU is likely to exacerbate existing workforce pressures.

We recognise the importance of maintaining mutual recognition of professional qualifications (MRPQ) for the health and social care workforce. This will support the movement of health and social care professionals across Europe.

After the UK leaves the EU, we anticipate existing EU and international qualifications will continue to be recognised for a fixed period. We are working with the UK government to develop the necessary legislation to support this.

Reciprocal healthcare arrangements

During the transition period to 31 December 2020 existing reciprocal healthcare arrangements will continue as they did prior to the UK leaving the EU.

These current reciprocal healthcare rights include:

  • state pensioners have full access to healthcare in the country they retire to
  • the free EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) allows people temporarily visiting another EU member state to receive emergency healthcare, and
  • posted and frontier workers are able to benefit from local healthcare rights

UK patients are able to exercise the right to planned medical treatment in another EU/EEA country.

People living in the EU who have their healthcare funded by the UK, including pensioners and students, will have their healthcare costs covered by the UK government.

The UK government is currently looking at the future arrangements for reciprocal healthcare. We are working with the UK government to ensure the interests of Wales are properly understood and represented.

Reciprocal Healthcare for citizens of the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland living in Wales after 31 January 2020

Information on healthcare for citizens of EU countries, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland living in Wales after the UK leaves the EU.

What you need to do

If you were living in the UK before the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, make sure that by 31 December 2020 you:

Getting healthcare in Wales

If you were lawfully living in Wales before 31 January 2020, you will be able to use the NHS in Wales, as you can now, until 31 December 2020. After that date EU citizens living in the UK must have registered and obtained settled or pre-settled status in order to be able to continue to live in the UK and access NHS services free of charge. If you do not register, you may be considered an overseas visitor and may be charged for NHS services. To find out what free support is available when applying for settled and pre-settled status visit the Immigration Advice Service website.

To be considered ordinarily resident, you must be living in Wales on a lawful and properly settled basis for the time being. You may be asked for evidence of this.

The UK government is aiming to agree future reciprocal healthcare arrangements either with the EU or with individual countries. Reciprocal healthcare provides urgent, immediate or planned medical treatment at a reduced cost or, in some cases, free.

If you are moving to the UK after 31 January 2020, you should check with your health insurance authority to find out what has been agreed.

Agreement with Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland

The UK has agreed citizens’ rights agreements with Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. These agreements mean that citizens of these countries living lawfully in the UK on the day the UK leaves the EU will be able to use the NHS as they do now.

These agreements do not cover citizens of these countries who move to the UK after the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.

Find out more about the Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement on GOV.UK.

Find out more about the EEA EFTA Citizens’ Rights Agreement (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) on GOV.UK

Agreement with Ireland

Irish citizens who live in the UK, and British citizens who live in Ireland, will continue to have healthcare cover in the country they live in after the UK’s departure from the EU on 31 January 2020. This is because of longstanding arrangements under the Common Travel Area.

Find out more information on the Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland on GOV.UK

Studying in Wales

You can continue to use your EHIC or Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) to access free NHS healthcare if you began a course of education or training in Wales before the UK left the EU. This will apply until the end of your course, even if it finishes after 31 December 2020.

If you started your education or training in Wales after the UK left the EU, your EHIC may not be valid. You should buy insurance to cover your healthcare as you would if visiting another non-EU country.

This does not affect the rights of individuals covered by the citizens’ rights agreements with Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

S1 certificate

Under current rules, an S1 certificate helps you and your dependents to be covered for healthcare when you are living in the UK.

If you are living in Wales on the day the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, your S1 will still be valid in Wales after that date.

You can continue to apply for an S1 certificate during the transition period. However, it may not be valid if you arrive in Wales after 31 December 2020, depending on what arrangements have been reached with the EU or individual countries.

You may be eligible for an S1 certificate, if you:

  • have worked and paid contributions in EU countries, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland
  • receive certain benefits, such as a pension, from EU countries, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland

You should apply to the health insurance authority in the relevant country, if you are eligible. You must register your S1 in Wales to access NHS care in the same way as someone who is ordinarily resident.

If you are a citizen of Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland and living in the UK on the day the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, your S1 will still be valid after that date because of the citizens’ rights agreements with those countries. If you do not have an S1, you can still apply to your health insurance authority for an S1 during the transition period.

Data protection

Following Brexit, the rules about how personal data flows between the EU and the UK will change. Visit the Information Commissioner’s website to find out more about how these changes will affect you or your organisation.

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