FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Doctors’ Association UK concerned that Home Office delays are preventing Doctors from helping in pandemic. IHS refunds still not processed
The Doctors’ Association UK has written to the Home Secretary Priti Patel regarding two issues that are adversely affecting the NHS frontline’s efforts to combat the escalating coronavirus pandemic. These are specifically related to delays in issuing Biometric Residency Permits for doctors with valid visas to work in the UK and the ongoing delays in refunding the Immigration Health Surcharge, promised earlier this year.
Delays in issuing BRPs are preventing qualified doctors with valid visas currently in the UK from starting work in the NHS and helping to mitigate the increasing effect of staff sickness from the escalating rates of COVID-19.
This is exemplified by Dr Ahmad Ussaid, a respiratory specialist doctor with a visa approved who is currently in Leicester, a city hit particularly hard by COVID-19. However, he is unable to start work due to an ongoing delay providing him with a BRP, despite multiple contacts by email and telephone in addition to intervention by his MP. He remains ready to jump into the fray but unable to due to this bureaucratic hinderance, depriving him of an income and the NHS of a skilled doctor when the country needs them most.
Meanwhile numerous doctors have also contacted us regarding delays in refunding the Immigration Health Surcharge. A flagship promise made by the Prime Minister and reinforced by the cabinet was to refund the IHS. However, for many charged such as Dr Aqsa Ghanzanfar who has emailed the Home Office thrice, they still await refund of this for no clear reason. Others have been refused as they have paid form bank accounts from their country of origin which have been understandably closed on arrival to the UK.
Dr Dolin Bhagawati, a Neurosurgeon working in London and Editorial Lead for DAUK said:
“These prolonged and ongoing bureaucratic delays are simply unconscionable. We have trained doctors in this country who are ready and willing to help combat the pandemic but unable to work due to the Home Office not doing its job and supplying appropriate documentation.
Meanwhile promises made by the Prime Minister and the cabinet regarding refunding the IHS to NHS staff continue to remain unfulfilled. How can the NHS attract the best and brightest to the UK if the world sees a government unable to fulfil straightforward promises?
Unfortunately, the immigration rhetoric and policies of the recent past has led to many of our valued colleagues feeling crestfallen, unappreciated, and exploited. This country must reward those that come to its aid in its time of greatest need.
We call on the government to do its job to allow the NHS to do its part in leading the country through this national emergency.”