Theresa May is facing another immigration crisis. No not that one, another one: the Evening Standard reports that the Prime Minister rejected the pleas of her Cabinet colleagues to temporarily lift visa quotas to allow more desperately needed doctors to fill NHS posts.
This comes after up to 100 Indian doctors had their visa applications declined, and the chief executive of NHS Employers Danny Mortimer warned that at least another 400 doctors with a job offer in the health service have been unable to enter the country since December.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, former home secretary Amber Rudd, and Business Secretary Greg Clark all pressed Downing Street for months to relax the rules for tier two visas, which are offered to skilled workers from outside the EU with a job offer in Britain.
Downing Street has been forced to stand by its strict immigration regime, despite fierce criticism amid the worsening Windrush scandal. Javid may be trying to distance himself from May’s harsh line on immigration, but the Prime Minister has other ideas.
Before May continues to block such requests to allow more doctors to work in the UK, here are ten things she should bear in mind:
1. As of February, there were 100,000 vacancies across England’s 234 acute, ambulance and mental health trusts. That’s one in 11 posts. We need the doctors.
2. A Home Office spokeswoman said the visa capping system was in the “national interest”. To be blunt, it’s not in the “national interest” to decline doctors who could be saving lives in this country, just because they’re foreign.
3. According to the chief executive of NHS Employers, refusing doctors’ visas has led to shortages on rotas, extra costs for the NHS, delays in treatment, clinics being cancelled, and delays in patient care. (That’s five reasons right there really.)
4. This ain’t a good look at a time when the government is embroiled in a massive immigration scandal, and the new Home Secretary denounced the “hostile environment” image only yesterday.
5. The General Medical Council disagree with your approach. Charlie Massey, chief executive of the GMC, said: “It is frustrating that while one government department is working hard to recruit doctors into an overstretched health service, another is enforcing eligibility conditions which stifle those efforts.”
6. The BMA are livid too. They called on ministers to tear down “unnecessary barriers” and delays in visa applications, highlighting another case of a GP-in-training, only five months away from qualifying, who faces deportation due to a delay in his visa process.
7. In one survey, more than a third of NHS trusts say the impact of Brexit has been negative for their workforce (and half say the lack of clarity on Brexit means it’s still too early to predict how their staff might be affected). We need the doctors guys.
8. Has she seen how vital non-UK nationals are to the running of the NHS? Around 139,000 out of 1.2 million staff are of a non-British nationality – that’s 12.5 per cent of all staff.
9. Eight in ten NHS workers have raised concerns about staffing levels and patient safety, with many also saying that their warnings had been ignored, suggests a national media survey. Sorry to labour the point but WE NEED THE DOCTORS, GUYS.
10. People need healthcare. Other people want to do the healthcare. Maybe we should just, you know, let that happen and save lives?