Government relaxes visa rules, allowing more overseas staff to join NHS

The health and social care secretary has confirmed reports that doctors and nurses will be removed from tier 2 visa caps, after pressure from the industry.

NHE reported yesterday that a relaxation of the rules will mean that thousands more doctors and nurses will be able to join workforces around the UK- something which many campaigners have been calling for years.

National media reported that health secretary Jeremy Hunt and home secretary Sajid Javid were pressuring the prime minister to ease the existing restrictions which had barred over 2,000 doctors from outside the EEA from entering the UK between November and April his year.

Today, at the NHS Confederation’s conference in Manchester, Hunt said it was “extremely welcome” that the prime minister had amended the rules to allow more medical professionals to join the NHS.

He said “Once we increase doctor training places we are able to make the argument that in the period between now and when those training places convert into fully-trained clinicians, the government should be flexible on visas.

“That is why it is extremely welcome,” he added, “that the PM has announced that doctors and nurses will be removed from tier 2 camps which means that the NHS will be able to recruit the number of doctors and nurses they need from overseas.”

Head of analysis at NHS Providers, Phillippa Hentsch said: “This is going to be a huge relief for trusts that have been struggling to fill their doctor and nursing vacancies. Recruitment problems caused by the cap have resulted in rota gaps, often filled by paying premium locum rates. That is not good for continuity of care for patients, or for trusts’ finances.

“It is vital too that training here is expanded to meet the longer term workforce needs in health and social care. Plans will take time to deliver, so the NHS needs to be supported to recruit from overseas for the foreseeable future.”

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