UK softens immigration rules for medical professionals

The UK has announced it will relax immigration rules for non-EU medical professionals.

The Home Office yesterday revealed that foreign medics would be excluded from the government’s cap on skilled migration.

At present, the cap on skilled migrants coming to the UK from outside of the EU is set at 20,700 people a year. However, with the UK nearing the date of Brexit, and the possibility that EU workers will no longer be allowed so readily to live and work in Britain, the government has decided to relax the rules for medical professionals from outside the EU.

Recent figures show that NHS England currently has 35,000 nurse vacancies and nearly 10,000 unfilled doctor posts. Many experts fear that this shortage of medical professionals will become even worse when the UK leaves the European Union.

According to think tank Global Future, 12.5 per cent of NHS England’s staff are from overseas. That number rises to 45 per cent in certain specialities including paediatric cardiologists and neurosurgeons.

The Royal College of GPs has hailed the government’s decision a “great step forward,” while even the opposition Labour Party has stated that it is a “welcome U-turn.”

“I recognise the pressures faced by the NHS and other sectors in recent months,” explained Home Secretary Sajid Javid. “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.”

The decision represents Mr Javid’s first significant migration policy and could be seen as a sign that the government is prepared to soften its immigration stance in the lead-up to Brexit.

Minister Javid also revealed that an extra 8,000 non-EU migrants from professions including IT and engineering will also be granted work permits.

Article published 15th June 2018