8 November 2019
Aiming to make it easier for doctors and nurses from around the world to work in the UK after Brexit, the Conservative Party has said that, if it forms the next Government, it will launch a fast track “NHS visa”.
The proposal would form part of the already announced plan to introduce a points-based system for migrant workers from both EU and non-EU countries.
The latest announcement suggests that extra points will be awarded for coming to work in the NHS and that the cost of applying for a visa would be reduced from £928 to £464 for medical professionals.
There would be no cap on numbers entering through the NHS route and applicants would be guaranteed a decision within two weeks. There are currently 100,000 vacant jobs in the public health service.
Referring to the proposed points-based system, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “That means the best of both worlds — attracting talent from around the world so our NHS continues to provide brilliant service while ensuring that it isn’t put under strain by opening Britain’s borders to the entire world.”
NHS recruits would also be able to pay back the £400 cost of the immigration health surcharge through their salary if the charge is not already covered by the NHS trust offering the job.
However, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has pointed out that the proposals do not remove the £1000 immigration skills charge employers have to pay for every foreign worker they hire.
Putting forward its own manifesto, outlining key priorities to help members demand action from prospective parliamentary candidates, the RCN said that “more ambitious” plans were needed to address NHS staffing shortages.
It has called on the Government to build an immigration system that supports nursing “with continued ability to recruit overseas staff, and a commitment to ethical recruitment”.