Visa Rules Affecting Recruitment of Doctors, Say UK Health Officials

About 100 Indian doctors who had been recruited for 30 NHS trusts were recently refused entry to the United Kingdom, reports said.


The United Kingdom government’s immigration rules are impacting the recruitment of non-European Union doctors in the country’s National Health Service (NHS), health officials said after several Indian doctors were not allowed entry to the UK, the Telegraph reported.

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, Metro reported. The health chiefs said that placing limits on the number of visas being given to doctors who belong to outside the European Economic Area has led to gaps in rotas, with patient care being delayed, the report said.

The move by the Home Office is extremely disappointing, Dr. Ramesh Mehta of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin said, according to the Hindu. “The Home Office has been absolutely bureaucratic and they are stopping these doctors from coming in. We are aware that Ministers are looking into it but don’t know why there is a delay,” he said. Mehta pointed out that these doctors are getting frustrated since they have jobs in India. Some of them are now saying that they don’t want to come to the United Kingdom.

“We have examples of clinics being cancelled and delays in terms of patients receiving care. It exacerbates pressures in what are relatively small medical teams,” Danny Mortimer, the chief executive of NHS Employers, was quoted as saying by BBC. Mortimer added that he had heard of 400 cases of visas being blocked since December.

The Home Office, however, has said that the doctors who have been refused entry can apply once more. “It is important that our immigration system works in the national interest, ensuring that employers look first to the UK resident labor market before recruiting from overseas,” a spokesperson from the Home Office said, the Metro reported. The spokesperson added that when demand exceeds the monthly available allocation of Tier 2 or General places, priority is given to applicants who fill a shortage or PhD-level occupations.

The health chiefs have also written to the UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, explaining their worries, according to reports.

Talking about the decision to refuse entry to Indian doctors, Jon Rouse, the chief officer of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said that NHS has been stretched to its utmost limits. “As we reach the end of a winter where the NHS has been stretched to its very limits, partly as a result of a lack of medical workforce, we find it almost impossible to understand how this decision can have been reached,” Rouse said, the Telegraph reported.

NHS Improvement, responsible for overseeing foundation trusts and NHS trusts, said in February that there were 100,000 vacancies in England’s 234 acute, ambulance and mental health trusts.

“Despite working at full stretch with around 100,000 vacancies and a real risk of staff burnout, and despite treating 6 per cent more emergency patients year on year in December, trusts cannot close the gap between what they are being asked to deliver and the funding available,” Saffron Cordery, NHS Providers’ director of policy and strategy, said.

Meanwhile, the role played by South Asian doctors in British general practice and the (NHS) in the United Kingdom is being hailed through an exhibition in London. The exhibition, titled Migrants who made the NHS, has been organized by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), and was inaugurated on April 25.

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