The Government has been urged to urgently extend the visas of overseas doctors stranded in the UK.
The BMA, along with the British International Doctors’ Association and the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, have written to home secretary Priti Patel asking that visas be extended until the end of this year.
The letter sent on 23 June comes as hundreds of overseas doctors who came to the UK to complete their PLAB (Professional Linguistic and Assessments Board) assessment, remain in limbo following the suspension of their exams and international flights.
In the letter, the organisations say overseas doctors form the backbone of the NHS and it is imperative that given the workforce shortages, we do all we can to accommodate them. “Their plight, far away from family, inability to work as doctors in this country or to be able to help their native country through these turbulent times, is not to be underestimated,” they say.
The Home Office previously announced that overseas doctors in the UK would have their visas extended until the end of July. However, with PLAB 2 exams not expected to resume until August at the earliest, the BMA and the other doctors’ groups have warned that a fresh extension until the end of the year is needed.
It is estimated that there are 220 overseas doctors from 20 different countries in the UK and unable to work. The letter urges the home secretary to grant a further automatic extension, free of charge, to these doctors until the end of December 2020.