The UK Home Office has rejected more than 2,300 Tier 2 visa applications by doctors of third-world countries within the last months, despite the job shortages the National Health System in Britain is facing, and the possible crisis it will probably go through if things keep going in the same direction.
According to figures obtained by the Eversheds Sutherland law firm through a Freedom of Information request, 2,360 non-EEA doctors out of 3,597 were rejected between November 6 and April 5 this year. The figures also show that all 103 applications submitted by pharmacists were refused, and not a single visa was issued to them.
The Tier general 2 visa, which allows employers in Britain to bring staff from other countries to fill skilled jobs, has a cap of 20,700 per year, which cap was introduced by PM Theresa May herself when she was a home secretary. PM May has been criticized a lot lately on her immigration policy which aims to keep net migration down below the 100 thousand per year. Groups and individuals have called and written to her to remove the visa cap, in order to avoid any possible health system crisis.
An analysis published recently by the Global Future think tank shows that one in eleven health service posts are currently vacant. The number will surely increase, if the cap of the Tier 2 visa is not removed, at least for the applicants of medical fields. The report highlights that British hospitals are in need of at least 3,500 new doctors every year, in order to overcome the current situation.
More than a thousand NHS posts remain vacant, including 35 thousand nurse posts and nearly 10 thousand doctor posts, while the NHS services are heading for a £931m deficit, twice of what was planned for this year.
The Global Future study has called on the scrapping of the visa cap, when it comes to healthcare workers, highlighting that the UK has failed to attract medical staff from the EU, especially after the BREXIT referendum.
Home Office had rejected visa applications of 100 doctors from India who were already recruited by the NHS, media reports showed. The new sparked criticism against May and her policies, calling on the removal of visa cap once again. The chief executives of the King’s Fund, the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation came together and sent a joint letter to PM Theresa May, calling her to review the Tier 2 visa cap.
It is believed that the chances are May will permit a small increase in the number of health specialists to come to the UK from third-world countries, and join the NHS staff.