Relaxing of visa cap “a much-needed victory for common sense”

The home secretary has convinced Theresa May to ensure the tier 2 visa cap blocking international doctors from working in the UK is relaxed

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 international doctors from working in the UK.

While he diplomatically chose to remain non-committal during the interview, he has now succeeded in convincing the prime minister of the plan to ease the rules, which will allow the NHS to take on more much-needed international staff.

Javid is now expected to remove doctors and nurses outside of EU nations from the 20,700 tier 2 annual limit. Doctors all over the country have been urging him to make such a move, including the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), which wrote directly to him with its concerns about how international doctors were being affected by the government’s restrictive rules.

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.”

“While we await the details of the home secretary’s expected announcement, lifting the cap of tier 2 visas for doctors and nurses wanting to work in the NHS would be a fantastic and much-needed victory for common sense and patient care, and something that the college, along with organisations across medicine, has been pushing hard for.

“We are currently desperately short of GPs in the UK. Our workload is escalating both in terms of volume and complexity, yet despite the government’s pledge for 5,000 more family doctors by 2020, the number of GPs working in the NHS in England is actually falling.

“The NHS, general practice included, has long been supported by the skills and hard work of doctors and other healthcare professionals from overseas. Mindful of similar pressures in other countries, we would welcome any appropriately-trained doctor who wants to work in UK general practice to help us deliver care to over 1m patients a day.

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“Regardless of the cap on tier 2 visas, there remain significant barriers for GPs to employ doctors from overseas. We urge the Home Secretary to address these in his announcement tomorrow: to cut the arduous red tape and significant costs standing in the way of GP practices obtaining the necessary licence to do this; and to use his powers to add GPs to the Migration Advisory Committee’s shortage occupation list.

“Recruiting GPs from overseas will not solve the workforce crisis and we are committed to training more GPs in the UK – but it takes at least 10 years to train a GP, and lifting the cap on Tier 2 visas is a very positive step in addressing the workforce pressures facing general practice in the shorter term.”

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