The BMA will lobby the Government to fund GP practices to provide visas for international trainees, under new policy.
A motion put forward by the conference of LMCs and passed in all parts at the BMA’s Annual Representative Meeting (ARM) last week said the BMA will call on the Government to ‘facilitate tier 2 sponsorship / skilled worker status funding for all practices across the country’.
It added that all international medical graduate (IMG) doctors entering UK GP training programmes should be awarded a ‘five-year minimum visa’.
And it said that any existing tier 2 or health and social care visa should be extended before the planned CCT date without trainees having to secure employment for visa sponsorship.
The motion also called for the Government to ‘support the option of relocation of the close family of NHS workers to the UK’ and ‘lobby the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to prioritise IMG GP trainees who do not hold a UK driving license for driving tests’.
Proposing the motion, Dr Andrew Wilson of the junior doctors’ conference said: ‘I cannot underplay the vast contribution that international medical graduates have made throughout the NHS, but especially in general practice.
‘One cannot fathom that in this time of extreme GP shortage, why the Government insists on making these GP trainees jump through these hoops, causing some to leave the United Kingdom.’
He added that ‘primitive punitive visa restrictions’ make the ‘transition to the UK even more stressful and difficult than it has to be’.
He told delegates: ‘Even though they have been trained in the UK [and] been proven to be of the UK standard, they aren’t guaranteed permission to remain in the country – this is wrong.’
Last month, the RCGP warned MPs that recently qualified GPs are receiving ‘deportation’ letters soon after completing their medical training.
Pulse had first revealed in April this year that up to 1,000 newly-qualified GPs could face removal from the country when their visa expires next year.
Overseas doctors must work under the skilled worker visa scheme for at least five years before they can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILTR) and this timeframe covers most specialist medical training.
But GPs usually gain their certificate of completion of training (CCT) after three years, leaving a two-year gap during which they have to secure sponsorship if they want to stay in the country when their visas run out.
NHS England had expected to be allowed to sponsor the doctors during the two-year period but could not reach an agreement with the Home Office – an outcome that has been condemned by GP representative organisations including the BMA and BAPIO.
However, the Government has said that highlighting that these GP visa concerns amounts to ‘needless scaremongering’.
Meanwhile, Pulse revealed last month that only 124 GPs recruited via NHS England’s international GP recruitment programme are still practising in England, out of a target of 2,000.
Motion in full
Motion by CONFERENCE OF LMCS: That this meeting celebrates and values the contribution of international medical graduates to our workforce and calls on the UK government to:-
i) support the option of relocation of the close family of NHS workers to the UK; PASSED
ii) facilitate tier 2 sponsorship / skilled worker status funding for all practices across the country; PASSED
iii) mandate a five-year minimum visa award to doctors entering UK GP training programmes; PASSED
iv) extend the duration of any existing tier 2 visa (or health and social care visa) before the planned CCT date without having trainees to secure employment for visa sponsorship; PASSED
v) lobby the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to prioritise IMG GP trainees who do not hold a UK driving license for driving tests. PASSED