By Lilian Anekwe
NHS Employers has waded into the row of the Government's immigration cap by warning setting limits will 'disproportionately affect' GPs and doctors moving from abroad to work in the UK.
Home secretary Theresa may announced this week that Government will limit the number of skilled migrants moving to the UK from outside the European Economic Area to 21,700 – a reduction of 6,300 on the equivalent figure for 2009.
NHS Employers is representing staff in ongoing discussions with the Department of Health and the UK Border Agency about the proposed immigration policy, and say the cap would effectively reduce the supply of visas available to foreign doctors by 25%.
Karen Charman, head of employment services at NHS Employers, said: ‘NHS Employers is concerned that the manner in which the new immigration cap has been constructed will have a disproportionately adverse affect on the ability of the NHS to recruit.
‘We remain concerned that this substantial reduction in staff supply may adversely affect the ability to deliver patient care in many NHS trusts.
The NHS has already seen the recruitment of skilled staff from abroad reduced as a result of previous initiatives to reduce visas by 15%, Ms Charman said.
As well as further restricting the ability to recruit staff, the plans would add an ‘unreasonable administrative burden on the NHS'.
She added: ‘NHS organisations have made great strides in working towards strict government targets for efficiency savings. The immigration cap introduces an unreasonable administrative burden on the NHS, resulting in costly bureaucracy, extensive paperwork and delays in recruitment.'
Earlier this month the BMA also hit out at the plans, Dr Terry John, chairman of the BMA's international committee and a GP in Walthamstow, London said the immigration cap ‘has been rushed through with insufficient attention to how it will work in practice' and urged the Government to rethink the plan.The BMA has also warned against caps on skilled migrant workers