Recruitment of doctors ‘stifled’ by UK visa rules, watchdogs warn

04 May 2018 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The General Medical Council (GMC) and Royal College of Physicians (RCP) have condemned the Home Office for the current UK visa rules, which they argue are “stifling” their efforts to recruit doctors from aboard.

According to the GMC and RCP, government decisions such as the choice of the Prime Minister to veto UK visa exemptions for 100 doctors from India, are preventing the NHS from achieving the staffing levels it needs.

Additionally, the GMC announced that it has seen a significant increase in the number of doctors seeking advice about how to work in Britain, but added that many are struggling to get UK visas.

According to NHS rules, doctors from abroad must pass strict language and competency tests alongside their UK visa requirements in order to earn their place on the GMC register.

The body has revealed that it expects more than 5,000 doctors from outside the European Union to sit these tests in 2018, which would mark an increase of 66 per cent on the previous year.

However, without the support of the government, it is likely many of these doctors will be unable to fill gaps in NHS trusts despite proving their abilities.

In a letter to Theresa May, RCP president Professor Jane Dacre commented: “Given the length of time it takes to train a doctor, the NHS will need to continue to recruit doctors from overseas to meet patient need in the short-term.”

“We therefore need to devise a system allowing the NHS to recruit enough shortage specialities, whilst also having the flexibility to bring in doctors who work in other specialities when there is a requirement.”