NHS Staff Shortage Crisis Deepening Due to Hostile Environment, Say UK Doctors

The Royal College of General Practitioners requested UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s help in providing a relief to the UK's shortage of family doctors.


The tough immigration rules stemming from a “hostile environment” in the United Kingdom are worsening the crisis of shortage of medical staff in the country’s National Health Service (NHS), say medical professionals, the Guardian reported.

In a letter to UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, the chair of Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), stated that NHS needs an urgent overhaul. This is due to the Theresa May government’s failure in fulfilling its promise of hiking the number of general practitioners (GP) in England by 5,000 by 2020. The numbers are now decreasing instead of increasing.

“Clear targets to increase recruitment to general practice have been set out in NHS England’s General Practice Forward View, but these look increasingly difficult to achieve,” Stokes-Lampard wrote, as per the report.

The RCGP has requested Javid to help in providing relief to the United Kingdom’s shortage of family doctors by placing them on the shortage occupation list of the migration advisory committee. This will make the process of hiring GPs from foreign nations easier.

Many health professionals, including nurses, paramedics, old age psychiatrists and radiographers, are already on the shortage occupation list as they are very short in supply in the United Kingdom.

A lobbying group led by doctors has also cautioned Javid that doctors who are presently working for the NHS, and other doctors who have been chosen for GP training, have been asked to leave the country after being denied Tier 2 visas, the Independent reported.

The Doctors’ Association UK has written a letter to Javid, saying that “severe understaffing of the NHS is being exacerbated by visa rules,” the report said.

The letter added that among the thousands of doctors who have been refused Tier 2 visas are those who are currently training as well as working in the United Kingdom. “We, as doctors, are feeling the strain of working in departments, wards and general practices, which are severely understaffed. Several specialties are under-filled, and too often we find we are having do the jobs of several doctors at once,” the letter said, as per the Independent.

The letter added that 1,500 doctors have been refused Tier 2 visas to come and work in the NHS in the past four months. “This is despite the fact that there are reportedly 10,000 vacant posts for doctors,” the letter pointed out.

Javid on June 3 said that the United Kingdom will review the country’s visa system for highly skilled immigrants, BBC reported. Two UK Cabinet members had earlier asked May for relaxation of the visa cap on foreign doctors coming to the United Kingdom from outside the European Union.

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