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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

New threat to health service by Tory Government rules

As if they have done enough damage to the health service in alienating many junior doctors, the Conservative Government has added to recruitment problems with new visa rules that will leave overseas doctors “last in line” for specialist jobs.

The Independent reports on the BMA's concerns that reforms aimed at making it harder for businesses to recruit from overseas, overlooking British workers, could have “a series of unintended and harmful” consequences for the health service.

They have written to the immigration minister James Brokenshire, to tell him that changes, recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), could have a “devastating impact” on the 500 overseas medics who graduate from UK medical schools each year.

Many junior doctors have said that they will leave the NHS rather than work under new conditions being imposed on them by England's health minister. The BMA have now said that in addition the proposed changes to visa rules could also harm the Government’s plan to implement seven-day services, and to recruit 5,000 more GPs by 2020:

Recommendations from the MAC in a report last month, if drafted into law, would mean that international graduates from UK medical schools would now be subject to the Resident Labour Market Test when applying for a medical specialty. This means they would only be eligible to take part in the second round of applications for specialist training posts, when most have already been filled by UK and EU citizens.

Overseas doctors have told the BMA the proposed changes would make it much harder for them to pursue their chosen career path in the NHS. Many would leave the UK to pursue their career ambitions elsewhere, the doctors’ union said.

Further proposed changes, which would increase the minimum salary requirement for a tier 2 visa – the type assigned to overseas doctors training for a specialty – to £30,000, could penalise medics who want to work part-time in order to raise children, act as a carer, or study.   

Between August 2014 and August 2015, 3,602 doctors were granted tier 2 visas to work in the UK.

This is going to make things particularly difficult in Wales. Although we anticipate having junior doctors crossing the border to join Welsh health boards rather than stay in England, we also have issues recruiting specialist doctors and could do without further obstacles. Isn't it about time the Government started to get its act together across all departments on the health service rather than creating problems in one department that undermine their aspirations in another?

A very valid point has been raised in the post. The medical revalidation of doctors further seems to make it difficult for the overseas doctors to get working licence in the UK.
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