UK Cabinet Members Seek Relaxation of Visa Cap on Foreign Doctors

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Business Secretary Greg Clark are set to support measures allowing firms to employ overseas workers to plug the skill shortage.


Two UK Cabinet members have asked Prime Minister Theresa May for relaxation of the visa cap on foreign doctors coming to the United Kingdom from outside the European Union, sparking a new rift in the government, the Sun reported.

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Business Secretary Greg Clark are expected to lend their support to any measure allowing firms to employ overseas workers to plug the skill shortage, according to the report.

UK’s NHS trusts have warned that there are 93,000 vacancies throughout the United Kingdom. Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has said that he will support the exemption of all doctors and nurses till the country is in the process of training more of its own medical staff. He added that this process will, however, take a lot of time, Daily Mail reported.

Dr Sarah Wollaston, House of Commons Health Committee chair, has also urged that the visa cap should be lifted immediately. “The visa cap for doctors makes no sense at all and acts against the best interests of patients. Our immigration policy should be designed to benefit the UK – not leave science, healthcare and industry with a shortfall of vital skilled workers,” Wollaston was quoted as saying by Daily Mail.

A group of Tory ministers, said to be in dozens, have also signed a letter addressed to May, asking her to soften her stand on the issue, as per Daily Mail. The Tory backbenchers’ letter, written by member of parliament Heidi Allen, said that “the cap was forcing the country to make a binary choice between professionals needed to grow the economy and professionals needed to staff our health system.” The letter cautioned that without urgent intervention, the National Health Service (NHS) “is heading towards a perfect storm.”

Reports had earlier emerged that May had overruled Cabinet ministers’ request for recruitment of more overseas doctors in NHS.

Health officials had earlier said after several Indian doctors were not allowed entry to the United Kingdom. As many as 100 Indian doctors who had been recruited for 30 NHS trusts in the north west of England were not allowed entry to the United Kingdom recently.

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