United Kingdom to relax immigration rules for non-EU doctors and nurses


The Tier 2 visa route, which has had an annual cap of 20,700 since 2011, has in recent months seen the number of applications exceed the monthly allocation of available places.

Doctors and nurses are to be excluded from the cap on so-called "Tier 2" visas for skilled workers from non-EU countries, imposed by Theresa May when she was home secretary. That is why I have reviewed our skilled worker visa route.

The exclusion of doctors and nurses from the cap comes as the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care puts in place long-term measures to increase the supply of domestic doctors - including increasing the number of training places.

Earlier in the month, Practice Business reported on home secretary Sajid Javid's BBC interview, in which he said he hoped to review the immigration policy with regard to the tier 2 visa cap restricting worldwide doctors from working in the UK.

In a letter to Mr Javid, the head of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) said there were concerning cases where foreign Global Positioning System had been affected by the "hostile environment" policies first introduced by Theresa May while she was at the Home Office.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the RCGP, stated on the organisation's website that this move is a "fantastic and much-needed victory for common sense".

The British government will relax immigration rules to allow more doctors and nurses from outside the European Union to come and work for the National health service in the UK.

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She added: "The NHS, general practice included, has always been supported by the skills and hard work of doctors and other healthcare professionals from overseas".

"Mindful of similar pressures in other countries, we would welcome any appropriately-trained doctor who wants to work in United Kingdom general practice to help us deliver care to over one million patients a day".

At the start of June, Mr Javid had 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 2 visas".

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".

Sunder Katwala, director of the immigration think-tank British Future, said removing medical personnel from the visa cap would be a "sensible move".

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