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‘New sense of urgency’ needed after 30 NHS leaders warn against immigration rules

NHS bosses have warned that the UK’s immigration and visa policy is hampering the sector’s ability to hire new doctors, the BBC has reported.

Health leaders have criticised the Home Office’s policy of capping the number of skilled non-EU workers that are granted UK visas. Thus, the number of doctors being refused entry is increasing, worsening rota gaps and patient waiting times.

Leaders of more than 30 trusts have written to health secretary Jeremy Hunt and Amber Rudd, who has now resigned as home secretary, to ask them to urgently investigate the problem.

The criticism comes after more than 100 Indian doctors were refused UK visas.

Workforce policy advisor at NHS Providers, Paul Myatt, said: “Faced with shortages of doctors, recruiting internationally is one of the few options available to trusts in the short term.

“It’s deeply frustrating for trusts and doctors that when a job offer has been made, after considerable time and expense, trusts are repeatedly being declined the certificates of sponsorship needed for doctors to get work visas.”

Myatt added: “For the trust it means unfilled vacancies which often have to be filled by paying premium locum rates. For doctors, they may give up on working in the NHS and decide to work in another country.

“We appreciate that discussions are taking place within government about this issue, but there needs to be a new sense of urgency to find a solution so that trusts can recruit the staff they need to care for patients.”

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, also claimed that NHS organisations have for months been unable to obtain the necessary permits for essential medical colleagues.

“We are aware of at least 400 doctors who haven’t been able to enter the country to take up posts. This prolonged inability to recruit non-EEA talent hits us particularly hard – and therefore hits patients hard too,” he added. “We are also aware that our overall demand for visas within the present Tier 2 system is adversely impacting on other parts of the economy.”

Mortimer concluded: “We have proposed removing shortage occupation list roles from the cap but await a response from the government.”


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