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Highlighting GP visa concerns is ‘scaremongering’, says Government

visa government

Highlighting that up to 1,000 newly-qualified GPs could face removal from the country when their visa expires next year amounts to ‘needless scaremongering’, according to the Government.

The number, first revealed in a story by Pulse in April this year, is based on Health Education England data which says around 1,000 trainees are in the country on visas due to expire by the end of March next year.

At the time, the Home Office told Pulse it was working with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to try to increase the number of GP practices with licences to sponsor newly-qualified trainees.

However, after the story was trailed in the Mirror and Mail this weekend, a Government spokesperson said: ‘This is needless scaremongering. Workers from overseas make an invaluable contribution to our NHS, helping to keep vital services running and save lives. 

‘Trainee GPs may use time between the end of their training and the end of their visa to look and apply for work.’

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.

And, last week, the RCGP warned MPs that recently qualified GPs are receiving ‘deportation’ letters soon after completing their medical training.

But the Home Office explained that ‘deportation’ was incorrect as this is a term applied to removing foreign national offenders.

Those whose leave expires could face ‘removal’ rather than ‘deportation’ from the UK. 

It has no plans to reduce the five-year qualifying period for settlement in the UK before which GPs and other skilled workers can apply to settle permanently, it said.

Health Education England and NHS England are also matching candidates who have completed their course with vacancies.

DAUK has also said that it is ‘setting up a resource for IMG GPs facing visa problems to link them with GP practices looking to recruit GPs’.

Becoming a sponsor for overseas GPs

  • The current process of applying for a sponsor license takes around eight weeks.
  • There is also a priority service, which allows some sponsors to get a decision within 10 working days for an additional fee of £500.
  • Once a GP practice has been granted a sponsor license, it will last for four years before it would need to be renewed.
  • NHS England will reimburse any health and social care worker visa costs for the GP and their dependents if they remain in England to practise after qualifying.

Source: Home Office and NHS England

READERS' COMMENTS [1]

David jenkins 22 June, 2022 9:44 am

why don’t the government do something about the scaremongering by the daily wail and the torygraph – instead of moaning at the easy targets who, ironically, are actually doing the work !!