Indians excluded from cap on worker visas

British home secretary Sajid Javid

London: Indian doctors could soon be eligible to apply for work with Britain's National Health Service because some of the curbs on immigration are being eased by the new home secretary, Sajid Javid.

As Prime Minister, Theresa May's instincts were not to make any concessions on immigration. However, she has been warned by NHS bosses that the country faces a critical shortage of trained medical staff and that as a result patients' lives are at risk.

Staff from EU countries, who would be preferred (partly because they are white), are either leaving because of the uncertainly over Brexit or there is already a shortage in their respective countries.

At present skilled non-EU immigration is controlled by a "tier two" visa system which limits the numbers of foreigners, including doctors, coming in to 20,700 people per year.

But since this quota got filled quickly, the NHS was not able to recruit trained doctors - from India, for example.

For now, doctors are to be excluded from the two tier visa system.

According to her official spokesman at 10, Downing Street, "the Prime Minister will in due course be setting out our long-term plan for the NHS. An important part of that is making sure that the NHS has more highly-skilled doctors and nurses to deliver outstanding patient care.

"What we will be announcing is that doctors and nurses are being excluded from the cap on skilled worker visas.

"That means more staff on our hospital wards, higher standards and safer patient care."

May wants net migration to fall to 100,000 a year - this is the difference between people leaving the country and coming in. She believes cutting migration will be popular with working class voters but it led to the "Windrush scandal" when legitimately settled West Indians, who had been in the country for up to 50 years, were being denied cancer treatment or being deported.

Whether Javid will prove to be a new broom at the home office remains to be seen. But May, weakened by Tory infighting over Brexit, has had to give way over non-EU doctors because she realised it would not be politically helpful to have patients' lives endangered by Right wing immigration dogma.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) said Thursday's announcement would be a "much-needed victory for common sense and patient care".

Earlier this month, chairwoman Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard urged Javid to relax immigration rules, warning there were concerning cases where foreign GPs had been affected by the "hostile environment" policies first brought in by May.

The British Medical Journal has said that between December 2017 and March 2018 more than 1,500 visa applications from doctors with job offers in the UK were refused as a result of the cap on workers from outside the European Economic Area.

Stokes-Lampard said: "While we await the details of the home secretary's expected announcement, lifting the cap of tier two visas for doctors and nurses wanting to work in the NHS would be a fantastic and much-needed victory for common sense and patient care, and something that the college, along with organisations across medicine, has been pushing hard for.

"The NHS, general practice included, has long 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 UK general practice to help us deliver care to over one million patients a day."

It worth pointing out that the UK's gain will mean India's loss if the most talented doctors are lured away by the NHS.


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