Doctors could leave NHS under UK Government immigration proposals, BMA warns

Written by Tom Freeman on 17 February 2016 in News

Conservative plans to further restrict visas could risk an exodus of UK-trained medics from NHS, warns doctor’s union

New recommendations from the UK Government’s Migrations Advisory Committee could lead to “hundreds of UK-trained doctors” leaving every year, the British Medical Association (BMA) has warned.

The recommendations include restricting access to visas for specialist training posts and an increase in the minimum salary threshold from £20,800 to £30,000.

In a letter to immigration minister James Brockenshire, BMA council chair Mark Porter said the proposals had led to anxiety and uncertainty among overseas medical graduates over their careers.


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“UK medical graduates from overseas, and international medical graduates are essential members of our medical workforce and the NHS is dependent on them to provide high-quality, reliable and safe services to patients.

“These changes ignore that key fact, and if they are implemented by the government they could have a series of unintended and harmful consequences for patient care and the wider NHS,” he said.

The BMA also expresses concerns a proposed levy of £1,000 for organisations that employ skilled migrants from outside the EU could cost the NHS up £3.5m a year.

The profession is also becoming less attractive, the BMA argues, after Jeremy Hunt’s decision to impose a contract on junior doctors in England and a UK-wide crisis in GP recruitment, and this should be reflected in immigration policies.

Canadian medical student Cal Robinson said: “Immigration policies should reflect the desperate need to retain high-quality, UK-trained doctors within the health service.

“I would not have come to the UK if I had been aware then that I may not be eligible to continue training because of careless changes to visa regulations.

“I’m worried that these proposals will mean I will be unable to fulfil my ambition of becoming a surgeon or paediatrician in the UK, and like many other medical students and junior doctors, I am looking into training opportunities in other countries.”

The Home Office has said a final decision has not yet been made, and it is still considering the Migration Advisory Committee report

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