This afternoon the issue of tier 2 visas affecting doctors wishing to work in the NHS was discussed in the House of Lords following a question from Baroness Hayman. The Earl of Courtown indictated that progress will be made on the issue “in the very near future”.
The Earl of Courtown responded to the question by saying “the government is committed to keeping the operation of the immigration system under review to ensure it operates in the national interest. As my Right Honorable friend the Home Secretary has indicated we are looking urgently at this issue.
Baroness Hayman said in reply: “Would he not agree that is ludicrous and frankly shameful that patient care in this country is being compromised everyday by the shortage of doctors and yet everyday doctors from overseas recruited to positions in the NHS are being turned away and refused visas by the Home Office? Isn’t it time that the government talk urgent action and ended this damaging and dogmatic policy? “
Earl of Courtown seemed to indicate there may be an impending announcement on tier 2 visa caps: “this issue does need to be looked at seriously and this is why my Right Honorable friend the Home Secretary and my Right Honorable friend the Prime Minister have been discussing this issue. Progress as I said will be made in the very near future”.
However, Lord Clark of Windermere and Lord Kennedy of Southwark pressed the issue further:
Lord Clark of Windermere (Labour):
“Given the fact that we are tens of thousands of doctors short will the Minister explain to the House, and through the House to the British people why they are prepared to put their health at risk by refusing thousands upon thousands of doctor who’ve been recruited the right to come into this country? “
Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Labour):
“Why won’t the government urgently announce that the case for jobs where we have shortages are going to be exempt from this rule? To stall repeatedly on this issue is a serious error of judgement of the government, directly damaging patient care? “
The Earl of Courtown replied:
”We are not stalling on this issue. The issue is being taken exceedingly seriously and we will hear news on this issue shortly”.
The Doctor’s Association UK has been campaigning for Theresa May to “Scrap the Cap” and exempt doctors from arbitrary visa caps, allowing them to take up posts in the NHS. A petition by DAUK calling for Theresa May to Scrap the Cap has now reached 7300 signatures.
Watch the discussion in the House of Lords below.