Immigration rules 'to be eased' for NHS staff?

Jeremy Hunt

Earlier in the month, Practice Business reported on home secretary Sajid Javid's BBC interview, in which he said he hoped to review the immigration policy with regard to the tier 2 visa cap restricting worldwide doctors from working in the UK.

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive at NHS Providers, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the relaxation would be a "huge relief for trusts up and down the country who have been really struggling to fill their doctors and nurses vacancies". According to the Telegraph, Javid has warned Prime Minister Theresa May in a letter that increased recruitment of doctors from outside the European Union has led to a shortage of skilled migrants in other sectors and to the cap being breached in every month since December.

The Home Office is expected to exclude non-EU doctors and nurses from the visa limit which was introduced by Prime Minister Theresa May when she was home secretary.

To that effect, on Wednesday the government announced a new "start-up" visa for technology entrepreneurs, which will replace a visa route that was previously only open to graduates. May has pledged to bring net migration to the United Kingdom down to the "tens of thousands".

"We remain absolutely committed to bringing it down to sustainable levels".

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the RCGP, stated on the organisation's website that this move is a "fantastic and much-needed victory for common sense".

Earlier this month, chairwoman Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard urged Home Secretary Sajid Javid to relax immigration rules, warning there were concerning cases where foreign Global Positioning System had been affected by the "hostile environment" policies first brought in by Mrs May.

The proposed changes will affect the Tier 2 visas, which are used by skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland.

"The NHS, general practice included, has always been supported by the skills and hard work of doctors and other healthcare professionals from overseas".

"That is why it is extremely welcome", he added, "that the PM has announced that doctors and nurses will be removed from tier 2 camps which means that the NHS will be able to recruit the number of doctors and nurses they need from overseas".

The Telegraph reported that a number of Cabinet ministers had joined Mr Javid to convince the Prime Minister to exclude medical staff from the tier two cap.

He said: "It never made sense to turn away doctors and nurses that the NHS needs". The Home Office said around 40% of Tier 2 visas were granted to the NHS staff.

"But there are now so many problems with the immigration system, the Home Secretary must not stop here".

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