Doctors, Nurses to be Excluded from Skilled Worker Visa Cap, Says UK Govt
The move will mean there will be no restriction on the numbers of doctors and nurses who can be employed through the Tier 2 visa route.
The government will ease tough immigration rules in a bid to allow several more medical professionals from foreign countries to work in the country’s National Health Service (NHS), Home Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed on June 15.
According to the changes introduced on June 15, doctors and nurses are to be excluded from the cap on skilled worker visas. There will be no restriction on the number of doctors and nurses who can be employed through the Tier 2 visa route, thus enabling recruitment of more international doctors and nurses to provide patient care when required, the UK government said in a statement.
“I recognize the pressures faced by the NHS and other sectors in recent months. Doctors and nurses play a vital role in society and at this time we need more in the United Kingdom. That is why I have reviewed our skilled worker visa route. This is about finding a solution to increased demand and to support our essential national services,” Javid said.
The Tier 2 visa route, which has had an annual cap of 20,700 since 2011, has in recent months seen the number of applications exceed the monthly allocation of available places. This has been driven mostly by demand from the NHS— accounting for around 40 percent of all Tier 2 places.
Along with providing a boost to the NHS, the new decision will also free up hundreds of additional places a month within the cap for other highly skilled occupations, like engineers, IT professionals and teachers, from around the world, including India.
“Overseas staff have been a vital part of our NHS since its creation 70 years ago,” Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt said. He added that the news sends a clear message to nurses and doctors from around the world that the NHS welcomes and values their skills and dedication.
“It’s fantastic that patients will now benefit from the care of thousands more talented staff. This builds on steps we have already taken to make sure the NHS has the staff it needs for the future – boosting training places for home-grown doctors and nurses by 25 per cent,” Hunt said in the statement.
The government, however, insisted that it would still stand by the net migration target. “Net migration is falling — we remain absolutely committed to bringing it down to sustainable levels,” UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesperson was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
The British Medical Association (BMA) council and the NHS have welcomed the move, saying that it will provide the much-needed relief to patients and staff. “It will be a relief to patients and staff across the NHS that common sense has finally prevailed and the tier 2 visa restrictions on non-EU doctors and nurses are to be lifted,” Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association council said, the Guardian reported. Nagpaul added that the change represented a victory for the British Medical Association, medical bodies and patients who have argued that this obstructive cap was doing real damage to patient services across the country.
Others like Saffron Cordery of trade body NHS Providers also said that the change was the right decision, BBC reported. “This is going to be a huge relief for trusts up and down the country who have been really struggling to fill their doctors and nurses vacancies,” Cordery was quoted as saying.