NHS groups have welcomed the news that the government will go ahead with changes to the UK immigration system for doctors and nurses outside the EU.
The Home Office has confirmed that medics from outside the European Union will now be excluded from the government’s monthly UK immigration cap, which has provide “huge relief” for NHS bosses.
The move has been described as a “welcome U-turn” by Labour, while the Royal College of GPs stated that it is a “great step forward” in tackling pressure on the NHS.
The current UK immigration cap for skilled worker from outside the EU is set at 20,700 per year. However, pressures on the NHS have resulted in many vacancies remaining unfilled as the monthly cap is consistently reached.
According to the Financial Times, 2,360 UK visa applications made by doctors from outside the European Economic Area were refused over the past five months, apparently as a result of the cap.
Due to this high refusal rate, NHS bosses warned in April that the UK immigration rules were preventing them from filling a number of vacancies, including 35,000 nurse positions and almost 10,000 doctors positions.
While the proposed change to the UK visa system will only apply to these two posts, the government has stated that it will ensure that visas are freed up for workers in other struggling industries including teaching.
Commenting on the changes, Saffron Cordery of trade body NHS Providers, said: "This is going to be a huge relief for trusts up and down the country who have been really struggling to fill their doctors and nurses vacancies.”