Nurses and other healthcare professionals from overseas will benefit from an ‘NHS visa’ if the present Government is re-elected, the Conservative party has announced.
The plan is part of the proposed ‘points-based’ immigration system that will be put in place after Brexit. Coming to the UK to work in the NHS will confer extra points under the new model of immigration. Additionally, the cost of applying for a visa would also be reduced from £928 to £464 for medical professionals, and they would be guaranteed a decision within two weeks.
'From its inception the NHS has recruited globally,’ said Health Secretary Matt Hancock. ‘This new visa will make it easier for us to hire the finest doctors and nurses from other nations to come and work in the NHS - so that patients can receive the best possible care.’
The Conservatives are also considering scrapping the minimum salary requirement of £30,000 for skilled migrants seeking five-year visas.
However, the plan has been criticised by the RCN, who say it is indicative of the Government’s failure to train enough nurses in the UK.
‘Failure to train enough nurses is leaving NHS and social care short-staffed and forced us to recruit overseas in the short-term. A fairer immigration system is a key demand we’re making of politicians this election - valuing skills and not fixating on arbitrary targets – but the devil will be in the detail and we cannot be satisfied by rhetoric alone. The NHS doesn’t operate in isolation and nurses work in social care and many other places,’ said Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive of the RCN.
‘But it is of deep regret that the Prime Minister is preserving the immoral and heartless charge for overseas nurses to use the same services they keep running. It should be abolished, not spread out every month.’
The RCN has launched a manifesto for the general election, with the key demand being a written law determining who is responsible for workforce planning to ensure safe and effective care.