Home Office excludes doctors and nurses from the cap on skilled worker visas

The British Medical Association (BMA) and a number of health organisations have lobbied the Home Office to exclude medical professionals from the cap on skilled worker visas. As a result of their efforts, on 15 June 2018 the Home Office announced that doctors and nurses are to be excluded from the cap on skilled worker visas. The change will come into effect on 6 July 2018.

The current Tier 2 visa cap prevents thousands of non-EEA doctors and nurses from taking up jobs in the UK, which has a knock-on effect on the NHS. New figures published[1] by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in March 2018, display a dramatic drop in applications to join its register.

The combination of the departure of  EEA workers and the inability to recruit staff either from the domestic pool or overseas, the recruitment for medical professionals has declined in recent years.

Relaxing the immigration restrictions will allow industries in the health sector to recruit more staff from overseas. The health sector has always been reliant on the Tier 2 immigration system, as well as the European workforce. Following the increase in the number of EU nurses leaving the UK, the health services must turn to the overseas recruitment to cover the shortage of medical staff. Removing medical professionals from the Tier 2 cap is therefore a welcome step.

The Home Office has indicated that removing doctors and nurses from the cap is part of a long-term government plan for the NHS.

Footnote
[1] https://www.nmc.org.uk/globalassets/sitedocuments/other-publications/the-nmc-register-2018.pdf


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