Britain to let in more non-eu doctors
LONDON: The British government is set to announce a relaxation of visa rules for doctors and nurses from India and other non-eu countries on Friday to meet major shortages in the National Health Service (NHS).
Home secretary Sajid Javid is expected to confirm foreign doctors and nurses will be excluded from the government’s visa cap, BBC reported. A cap on all non-eu skilled workers, introduced by Prime Minister Theresa May when she was home secretary in 2011, sets a limit of 20,700 people a year. The Labour Party described the expected announcement as a “welcome U-turn” and NHS officials said it would be a “huge relief”.
In April, NHS officials warned that immigration rules were hampering their ability to find workers after visas for 100 Indian doctors were refused. NHS England had 35,000 nurse vacancies and almost 10,000 doctor posts unfilled in February.
Reports of the change in visa rules emerged after several cases of Indians refused permanent stay by the Home Office by using a rule to keep out criminals figured in Parliament on Wednesday. The government defended the refusals while reviewing the Tier 1 visa route.
After four demonstrations by Indian and other non-eu professionals outside Parliament since January, the debate in Westminster Hall saw members raising concerns that Section 322 (5) of immigration rules was being used to refuse their applications.
The reason most cited to refuse has been applicants rectifying tax returns and discrepancies in income mentioned to tax authorities and to the Home Office, which is allegedly construed by officials as examples of dishonesty.
Immigration minister Caroline Nokes defended the refusals while responding to the debate, but said a review was underway to ensure there were no wrong refusals following concerns raised by MPS and others.
She said: “I want to be very clear…we are not refusing people for making minor tax errors. We are certainly not saying they are terrorists…we do not have a policy of refusing people for making minor tax errors. On the ongoing review, Nokes said there were 281 cases in the first phase and 1,671 in the second.
(With inputs from agencies)