The British Medical Association (BMA) has welcomed the Government’s decision to exclude doctors and nurses from the visa cap.
Last week, Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, confirmed the Government would relax the tough immigration rules first imposed by Theresa May. Doctors and nurses are now excluded from the cap on skilled worker visas and there are no longer restrictions on the numbers who can be employed through the so-called Tier 2 visa route, which has had an annual cap of 20,700 since 2011.
More than 1,500 applications from doctors for Tier 2 visas were rejected between December and March, despite hundreds of unfilled posts within the NHS.
Announcing the change, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I recognise the pressures faced by the NHS and other sectors in recent months. Doctors and nurses play a vital role in society and at this time we need more in the UK. That is why I have reviewed our skilled worker visa route.
“This is about finding a solution to increased demand and to support our essential national services,” he said.
BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul said it is a relief common sense has finally prevailed.
“This represents a victory for the BMA, medical bodies and patients who have argued that this obstructive cap was doing real damage to patient services across the country," he said.
“The cap had stopped thousands of non-EU doctors from filling empty posts in the UK which health services had been unable to fill,” he added. “The NHS has always relied on these highly skilled, experienced overseas doctors to provide frontline care to patients, and they are needed more than ever at a time when the NHS is under mounting pressure from rising demand, stagnating funding and staff shortages.”