Despite NHS shortages: Home Office blocks visas for 100 Indian doctors

Despite NHS shortages: Home Office blocks visas for 100 Indian doctors”

Director Sunder Katwala said: "Britain shouldn't be turning away doctors and nurses from outside the European Union that the NHS needs and the public would welcome".

Understaffed health trusts are being forced to pay premium rates for locum doctors because immigration rules are preventing doctors from overseas coming to Britain to work, health chiefs have warned.

"We are aware of a few hundred doctors being denied visas over the past few months, a majority of whom are doctors from India", said Dr Ramesh Mehta, president of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO).

The skilled worker cap applies to all sectors so the numbers the NHS can recruit is also influenced by other sectors from IT to banking.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said he had heard of another 400 cases of blocked visas since December.

The row came to the fore as it emerged that Indian doctors recruited recently for a scheme in the northwest of England to supply junior doctors to 30 NHS trusts had been denied visas.

The issue of visas for non-EU doctors has been simmering for a while now, as monthly quotas for Tier 2 visas - the main category for work visas in the United Kingdom - was repeatedly hit, triggering a system which gave preference to filling shortage or PHD level roles.

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Separately, it emerged on Friday that NHS Employers - a body that represents HR professionals across the health service's trusts and other organisations - has written to Rudd and health secretary Jeremy Hunt to complain about the refusal of visas for Indian doctors seeking temporary work in the United Kingdom under a longstanding programme that supplies junior doctors to hospitals in the North West. "It exacerbates pressures in what are relatively small medical teams".

The Home Office, however, has said that the doctors who have been refused entry can apply once more.

Jobs provider NHS Improvement said earlier this year there were 100,000 vacancies across England's 234 acute, ambulance and mental health trusts.

"The published shortage list, based on advice by the Migration Advisory Committee, includes a range of medical professionals, including consultants specialising in clinical radiology and emergency medicine, and we estimate that around a third of all Tier 2 places go to the NHS", he said.

Asked for an explanation, the home office sent The Telegraph a statement: "It is important that our immigration system works in the national interest, ensuring that employers look first to the United Kingdom resident labour market before recruiting from overseas".

Jon Rouse, chief officer at the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, told the BBC it was "almost impossible to understand" why the refusal decision was reached during a winter when the NHS had been "stretched to its very limits".

She said any Tier 2 applications - as they are known - which are refused in oversubscribed months could reapply in future ones.

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