A large hospitals trust has said it will pay the cost for hundreds of its EU staff to apply for settled status to live in the UK after Brexit.

All substantive EU staff employed by Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust were sent a letter today from trust chief executive Dame Jackie Daniel and chair Sir John Burn making clear the support they will get.

The trust said it will pay the £65 application fee for EU staff to seek settled status in the UK. It could cost the trust around £26,000 if all its 400 EU staff apply. The trust said it believed it was the only one to adopt this as a blanket policy.

Under the government’s Brexit plans, the Home Office has said health workers will have new rights to gain status to remain in the UK.

EU citizens living in the UK will be able to start applying through the settlement scheme from 29 November.

Permanent contracted workers in the health and social care sector can access the scheme early, before it is opened up to others from March 2019.

Settled status will enable EU citizens to have unrestricted rights to remain and a UK passport once they have been living in the country continuously for five years.

The most recent estimate suggests there are around 63,000 EU nationals working in the NHS, which at the application cost of £65 each would amount to about £4m.

The trust said it was actively encouraging EU staff to apply for the scheme would reimburse fees.

Dee Fawcett, director of human resources, said: ”Our EU staff are an essential and valued part of our workforce. We appreciate the contribution they make to high quality patient care, and want them to continue to work here at Newcastle Hospitals.

“Staff have told us how unsettled they have felt and how unsure they have been about the future following Brexit. We hope that the support we are offering will encourage them to have a confident future in the North East.”