Make it easier for doctors to secure UK visas, minister urged

09 Oct 2017 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The Royal College of GPs has urged Home Secretary Amber Rudd to add family doctors to the UK’s list of shortage occupations to make the UK visa process simpler for overseas GPs to help fill gaps in the sector.

In a letter to Ms Rudd, GP leaders called for doctors to be labelled a key group to enable them to gain priority UK visas and entry when seeking to pursue a career in Britain.

Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the college, added that she wants to see any GPs trained outside the European Union offered the additional support they may need when applying to work in Britain, with the aim of plugging GP shortages as quickly as possible.

Commenting on the current process, Ms Stokes-Lampard added: “It’s baffling that whilst our profession is experiencing such widespread workforce shortages, GPs are not on the shortage occupation list, which cuts out some of the arduous bureaucracy involved in relocating to the UK from abroad, while ballet dancers, animators and orchestra musicians are.”

Some health professionals have already been added to the list, such as paramedics, radiographers and psychiatrists specialising in old age. Nurses have also been added, prompting the number of EU-trained nurses gaining UK visas and jobs within the NHS growing by 32 per cent to 22,232 between 2015 and 2017.

The call for GPs to be added to the list follows the recent increase of the number of GPs NHS England wants to recruit from abroad from 500 to between 2,000 and 3,000, which ministers hope will enable Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to deliver his promise of providing 5,000 more GPs by 2020 than in 2015.