Following the Home Office’s announcement that doctors will be excluded from the government’s Tier 2 visa cap a number of recruitment businesses have expressed their positive view at the move. Philip Braham, co-founder of Remedium Partners said: “We are delighted that the government has listened to ongoing concerns about visa caps and has removed its restrictions on the number of overseas doctors that can work in the UK. The NHS has long relied on the knowledge and expertise of this diverse talent pool. However, due to the visa caps a number of our NHS hospital partners have been running rotas with numerous gaps for many months now. Today’s news will allow departments to run safer, more efficient services for patients with larger numbers of staff. We also welcome the news for our community of doctors, many of whom have been waiting for months to relocate. They will now be able to take up their posts and become an integral part of our NHS.
"We are also hopeful that this decision will go a long way towards removing the NHS’s reliance on expensive agency locum doctors as a short-term solution to staffing gaps,” he added. “Given that a single locum can cost as much as £100,000 in agency fees alone, the NHS not only stands to save significant amounts of money long term, but it will be better placed to provide patients with continuity of care due to a much larger pool of permanent doctors.
“While today’s decision marks an exciting period of transformation for the NHS, Trusts will need to focus on strategic workforce planning strategies that not only attract overseas doctors to work in their hospitals, but also retain them on a long term basis,” he concluded.
Michael Johnson-Ellis, added his voice as managing director at Healthier Recruitment. “As an organisation which is on the front line of recruitment into the NHS, we understand the challenges that many Trusts are facing to recruit the skills they need to give patients the service they deserve and maintain patient safety. Not only for roles in niche sectors such clinical radiology, emergency medicine and radiography, but also in terms of general nurses.
“While there is, of course, a place for agency staff, for too long all gaps have been habitually filled by temporary workers to the detriment of continuity of care,” he said, “And, with the NMC register recording a significant fall in the number of EU nurses since the referendum, something most definitely had to give.”
Finally Team24 noted that as a result of the announcement, many more qualified nursing and clinical staff will be available to contribute to the UK healthcare sector.
Jo Matkin, managing director at Team24 said: “We are highly supportive of the move to change visa restrictions on medical workers. In the healthcare sector in particular, it’s important to have access to familiar and trusted workers. However, as in every industry, the attraction and introduction of new workers from diverse places and disciplines enriches the end user’s service experience. Most importantly, this is a positive outcome for patients as it will improve patient care.”
According to Matkin, lifting the visa cap will widen the pool of skilled healthcare professionals, bringing with them the experience and capacity that the UK health sector desperately needs to meet the growing demand for patient care.
Alongside this move, however, there will be an increased need to have strong onboarding processes and rigourous vetting procedures to ensure that all temporary and permanent employees are qualified and ready to work. Matkin says compliance to meet the standards of both public and private employers will be a top priority in the recruitment of healthcare workers, particularly in light of this announcement, which will see new medical workers coming to the UK.