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National Health Service Staffing (Freedom of Movement)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 5th December 2019.

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Photo of Clare Adamson Clare Adamson Scottish National Party

Is the First Minister aware of the comments that were made this week by the independent think tank the Nuffield Trust, which warned that ending freedom of movement of European Union citizens poses a “very real risk” to NHS staffing numbers? Does the First Minister agree that Scotland needs to escape Brexit and protect our public services?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

We should take the warning from the Nuffield Trust very seriously. We know that ending freedom of movement will have an impact on our ability to grow our working-age population, and that that will perhaps have a disproportionate impact on the ability of the NHS and other public services to attract and recruit the staff that they need. Beyond that, ending freedom of movement sends the wrong signal about the kind of country that we are. We want to be a country that is open, outward looking and welcoming. We should do that in line with our values as a country, but we need to be able to do that to attract the people whom we need to have a growing and thriving economy.

I hope that all parties in this chamber will reject policies such as ending freedom of movement and creating a hostile environment, and that they will be determined to keep ensuring that Scotland is the kind of country that attracts people from all over the world to make the amazing contribution that immigrants make to our economy and to our society.