Immigration rules relaxed for NHS workers

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt

Javid is now expected to remove doctors and nurses outside of European Union nations from the 20,700 tier 2 annual limit.

At the moment, just over twenty thousand non-EU skilled workers are allowed in each year and that has led to thousands of doctors and nurses being refused United Kingdom work visas.

The immigration policy director at business lobby group London First, Mark Hilton, described the decision as "a step in the right direction", but added: "It's time for Government to accept that arbitrary caps and targets don't work".

Home secretary Sajid Javid said: 'I recognise the pressures faced by the NHS and other sectors in recent months.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) said Thursday's announcement would be a "much-needed victory for common sense and patient care".

Earlier this month, family doctors had also urged Javid to lift the cap warning of a "desperate need" to ease pressures amid escalating patient demand.

In April, NHS bosses said the immigration rules were hindering their ability to find workers after 100 Indian doctors were rejected.

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According to the Financial Times, 2,630 visa applications from doctors outside the European Economic Area (EEA) were refused in a five-month period, despite crippling staff shortages across the NHS.

Although the proposed change will only apply to doctors and nurses, it would free up visas for workers from other industries.

At the start of June, Mr Javid signalled there could be a softer approach to immigration policy under his leadership at the Home Office, including looking again at the cap on "tier two visas".

After his comments on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, a spokesman for Mrs May said that visa routes were "always under review" and it was monitoring the situation.

'We urge the home secretary to address these in his announcement tomorrow: to cut the arduous red tape and significant costs standing in the way of GP practices obtaining the necessary licence to do this; and to use his powers to add Global Positioning System to the Migration Advisory Committee's shortage occupation list.

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".

Meanwhile, MPs have attacked the Home Office for threatening to deport migrant workers for making amendments to their tax records.

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