Following letters that DAUK wrote to Home Secretary Priti Patel and Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock, and coverage by The Guardian the decision to refuse a visa has today been overturned.
Dr Chan had been working as Clinical Fellow in Ophthalmology since 2017 and had recently been offered an NHS locum consultant post in Ophthalmology. Owing to ambiguous application guidance on the Home Office webpage Dr Chan mistakenly filed a ‘new application’ for a Tier 2 visa on the instead of a ‘change of employment’ application. Dr Chan did so whilst in the UK and on an active visa which was valid until the 14th of November.
Following widespread coverage in the news media, the Home Office has now granted Dr Mu Chiang, a GP trainee threatened with deportation, leave to remain. This week the DAUK intervened in Dr Mu Chiang’s case, calling on the Home Office to reconsider their decision. DAUK’s call on the Home Office was published in both The Independent and The Guardian. Dr Rinesh Parmar, DAUK’s Vice-Chair said the government should review its “senseless” hostile environment policy.
Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, the Chair of the campaign group The Doctors’ Association UK, criticised the handling of Chiang’s case as “ludicrous and nonsensical”. She added: “Telling a young doctor to leave the country within 10 days or else face prosecution over a technicality is inhumane and shows a flagrant disregard for Dr Chiang’s contribution to society and the NHS.”
A junior doctor who has lived in the UK for most of her life has said she felt like packing up and leaving after being told to leave the country or face deportation. DAUK has intervened in her case and urged the Home Office to reconsider. Dr Mu-Chun Chiang, 27, has spent 18 years in the UK. But despite this, she received a letter telling her she had a week to leave the country or risk either being kicked out or up to six months’ imprisonment after her visa application was rejected over what campaigners described as a “nonsensical administrative issue”.
The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) welcomes the news of the Home Office relaxing its immigration restrictions on doctors applying for tier 2 visas. We believe this is long overdue and look forward keenly to the specifics of how these changes are to be implemented. However, we are concerned that it has taken this length of time to announce a change in policy, given that caps have been hit for many months now and the NHS is facing widespread vacancies, numbering some 10,000 for doctors.
The Doctors' Association UK is supporting Dr Iqra Akhtar, an NHS doctor, who may not be able to take up a GP training post due to visa caps. Dr Akhtar has been in the UK working in the NHS for year, and has successfully applied for GP training. To take up her post Dr Akhtar resigned her post as a non-training staff grade to move to Preston and was required to switch to unrestricted Tier 2 visa. This has now been refused.
Dr Akhtar is now residing in the UK on a spousal visa, and is waiting to hear from the Home Office after her Trust re-applied for a tier 2 visa. If her visa continues to be refused Dr Akhtar will be unable to take up her post to start training as a GP. Speaking to DAUK she expressed frustration that visa caps were designed to reduce immigration, yet she is already resident.
Dr Akhtar told DAUK "the visa caps are affecting my career. I planned to start my GP training; having worked in the NHS and being a resident in the UK I did not anticipate this was going to affect me. This is very discouraging for doctors, especially those aspiring to work in the NHS."
Dr Akhtar also added that visa caps will adversely impact rota gaps.
The Doctors' Association UK has written to Dr Akhtar's MP Sir Mark Kendrick and asked him to take up Dr Akhtar's case with the Home Office.
This week, DAUK wrote to Sajid Javid warning of the impact of visa caps on general practice. The letter was published in The Independent. Speaking to Sky News, DAUK Chair Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden said:
"What we've been hearing about at The Doctor's Association UK are cases of doctors currently working in the UK, who have been training the UK, in specialities such as General Practice which is short across the frontlines...and because of visa issues they are being asked to leave.
Which is terrible for the NHS when we are so short of doctors but there is a real human cost for these doctors who have invested so much in training, in service to the NHS, who have made their homes here and are now being asked to leave"
Last night, DAUK Chair Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden was interviewed live on Sky News about the issue of Tier 2 visas and how it is affecting the NHS.
"What we are seeing as The Doctors' Association UK and frontline doctors are widespread shortages. We know that there are 10,000 vacancies across the NHS, yet 1500 visas have been denied to overseas doctors willing to fill those gaps.
What we've been hearing about at The Doctor's Association UK are cases of doctors currently working in the UK, who have been training the UK, in specialities such as General Practice which is short across the frontlines...and because of visa issues they are being asked to leave.
Which is terrible for the NHS when we are so short of doctors but there is a real human cost for these doctors who have invested so much in training, in service to the NHS, who have made their homes here and are now being asked to leave".
Dr Batt-Rawden also spoke out on the case of Dr Nnameka Chidumije, an NHS surgeon asked to leave the UK.
Watch the full interview below: