Dismore questions mayor over Brexit risk to London’s NHS and of a ‘Windrush’ scandal to EU national children

At Mayor’s Question Time today, Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden Andrew Dismore AM raised with the Mayor the risk to London’s NHS due to Brexit and of a ‘Windrush’ scandal affecting EU national children in the future.

Mr Dismore asked the Mayor:

‘What is your message to European Union citizens living in London who are concerned about their future after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union?

‘Isn’t it the case that the Government intends to introduce a points-based Immigration System primarily based on high rates of pay. What impact will this have on services and industries in London that rely on hard-working EU citizens, for example our NHS services which are under tremendous strain. EU citizens living in London are understandably worried about their right to stay, yet UCLH Trust has 15% of its staff coming from other EU countries, the Royal Free 14%, and Camden and Islington 13%. A and E waiting times are going through the roof – the four-hour A and E waiting time target was met in only 77% of cases at UCLH and 80% at Royal Free in December yet staffing shortages grow as EU nationals working in the NHS go home or do not apply for jobs in the first place.

‘Would you agree that Brexit has created the potential for an even deeper crisis if the 260,000 European-national children and 96,000 European-national young people living in the capital are not supported in applying to the EU Settlement Scheme or for citizenship. It is the case isn’t it, that the Conservative Government has not learned the lessons of the Windrush scandal, which caused such distress, loss, hardship or worse to those who came as children to the UK in the 50s and 60s. They are creating exactly the same conditions for the EU child migrants of today?’

The Mayor said that even though the UK has not left the EU yet, the consequences of the referendum vote in 2016 have been felt for a few years now, with record vacancies in the NHS, social care, hospitality and construction. A crude points-based system would not recognise the needs of London, for example it isn’t clear how many points a restaurant, hotel, NHS or social care employee would receive. London needs lower skilled and lower paid workers as well as those on higher pay. The Mayor considered his role to be to defend the economic interests of London and is talking to the Government about these points, and believes the current Prime Minister is less anti-immigrant than his predecessor as he had expressed support for an amnesty when Mayor of London and understands the cultural and economic benefits of migration.

Regarding parallels between the Windrush scandal and EU migrants, the Mayor said that there were more than 500,000 undocumented Londoners, 100,000 of whom are children who often only find out about their status when they apply to university and find out that they are not home students. Many are entitled to have their status regularised but are put off by the £1,000 cost to do so. The Mayor expressed scepticism about the ability of the Home Office and UKBA to deal with undocumented residents, which is why he is lobbying the government to make the system cheaper and easier and to provide assistance to those who need help to regularise their status.