The bosses of 35 NHS have accused the immigration authorities of putting patients at risk.
Immigration rules are hampering the ability of the NHS to recruit doctors, health leaders are warning. Recently, visas for 100 Indian doctors were refused owing to visa cap by the Home Ministry for non-EU workers. The doctors had been recruited as part of a long-running scheme in the North West which supplies junior doctors to more than 30 NHS trusts. NHS bosses say increasing numbers of doctors are being refused permission, worsening rota gaps and the waits patients face for treatment. The NHS is already short of doctors, with a report from the regulator NHS Improvement warning one in 11 posts was vacant. In February, NHS Improvement said that there were 100,000 vacancies across England's 234 acute, ambulance and mental health trusts.
Blocked visas due to non-EU worker cap
Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said he had heard of another 400 cases of blocked visas since December. "We have examples of clinics being cancelled and delays in terms of patients receiving care. It exacerbates pressures in what are relatively small medical teams.” It is unclear exactly why this has happened. There is evidence in the NHS that it is getting harder to recruit and retain EU staff, putting pressure on non-EU sources.The skilled worker cap applies to all sectors so the numbers the NHS can recruit is also influenced by other sectors from IT to banking. Nurses have been placed on the shortage occupation list, which means they are given a priority in international recruitment.
Home Ministry defends
A Home Office spokeswoman said the system was in the "national interest".
She said any Tier 2 applications - as they are known - which are refused in oversubscribed months could reapply in future ones. And she added there were a range of specialities, including A&E and radiology, that were on the shortage occupation list too.
Meanwhile, NHS leaders have written to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Home Secretary Amber Rudd asking them to urgently look into the problem.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London this week. It has been the first in 9 years and it gives hope for stronger trade relations between India and the UK post brexit. Modi’s bilateral visit to the UK, in which a range of issues - including immigration, technology cooperation and education will be discussed. The two meetings held by the UK Prime Minister Theresa May will be seen as part of the efforts by Britain to forge closer ties with India and its ability to secure lucrative post-Brexit trade deals.
The Commonwealth Business Forum
The Commonwealth Business Forum, which will bring together business leaders and political figures from across the Commonwealth, would explore ways of raising intra-Commonwealth trade from around $525 billion in 2015 to around $700 billion by 2020, alongside looking at some of the contemporary challenges and opportunities around technology, skills and protectionism.
MoU on return of illegal immigrants
A memorandum of understanding on the return of illegal migrants to India will be formally signed. It was previously agreed upon and relating to an issue that Britain has repeatedly raised. However, it remains to be seen whether any moves will be made to respond to Indian concerns about Britain’s immigration regime - which India has repeatedly stressed, is key to the future relationship between both the countries.
Diaspora events and Ayurveda Research Centre
With an Indian diaspora of around 1.4 million, Modi’s visit will attract a lot of attention. A number of rallies - both to protest and support Modi - are being planned during and ahead of the visit. He will also meet Prince Charles and the Queen and attend a diaspora event in London. Apart from the immigration memorandum, Modi also plans to discuss the setting up of an Ayurveda research Centre in the UK.
In a statement, the new Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said: “These new measures are part of our commitment to make it more difficult for people with no right to live or work in the UK to remain here.”
She added: “This will not affect those who live in the UK legally but we must be firm with those who break the rules as illegal immigration impacts the whole of society.”
The Home Office said it was only sharing details of illegal migrants who are liable for deportation from the UK, or who have absconded from immigration control. People with outstanding applications or appeals will not be affected – including asylum seekers – nor will those who have been granted leave to be in the UK, including refugees.
This measure to crackdown illegal immigrants has been criticised by campaigners. Chai Patel, legal policy director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, claimed the Home Office frequently makes mistakes determining immigration status.