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IMMIGRATION rules are “causing shortages” in the NHS workforce by preventing overseas doctors from coming to Britain to work, service providers warned yesterday.
Limits on the number of visas issued to medics from outside the European Economic Area are contributing to rota gaps and delays in patients receiving care.
NHS Employers said there have been 400 cases of blocked visas since December. The Home Office claims its limits are in the national interest.
GMB national secretary Rehana Azam said the government does not have its “priorities in the right place” and NHS services should be a priority.
“It can be seen with the Windrush generation that we still obviously have issues with racism across departments,” she said.
“Immigration policies have been directing real issues which discriminate against groups of people while patients are losing out because there is not enough skilled staff.
“Officials undertaking government policy have a list of occupations that we need from overseas, yet the Home Office is potentially making conscious decisions to block visas.”
NHS Providers policy adviser Paul Myatt said, faced with shortages of doctors, recruiting internationally is one of the few options available to trusts in the short term.
“We appreciate that discussions are taking place within government about this issue, but there needs to be a new sense of urgency to find a solution so that trusts can recruit the staff they need to care for patients,” Mr Myatt argued.
In February, NHS Improvement said that there were 100,000 vacancies across England's 234 acute, ambulance and mental health trusts.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “We need to have a system which ensures the NHS gets the staff it needs.
“That’s why we are investing in the workforce and we have record numbers working in the health service.”
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