A non-profit organisation led by frontline doctors has urged MPs to support the reduction of visa costs for healthcare professionals, as ‘the NHS is on its knees.’
Doctors’ Association UK has written to every MP to support a debate on Monday next week (January 30) at Westminster Hall to reduce indefinite leave to remain (ILR) fees from £2,389 to £243 for healthcare professionals.
The letter said that passing this motion is now ‘more important than ever’ as a key cause of the collapse of the NHS is the retention and recruitment of staff.
It said: ‘As the cost of living rises, a reduction in the fees would attract the best international staff to get our NHS back on its feet.
‘During the pandemic ILR should have been granted to all healthcare workers who made great sacrifices for the greater good of the country, but this was never brought to fruition.
‘It is now time we show our gratitude as a nation and pay this debt back by reducing ILR fees. £2,400 is more than most healthcare workers make in a month and is an unjust amount to pay when we need to be rewarding and attracting staff.
‘This unattainable fee pushes hard working overseas staff to seek opportunities away from the UK, we are damaging the morale of staff.’
Dr Pushpo Hossain, IMG lead at DAUK, said: ‘The Overseas Healthcare staff applying for ILR in the next 5 years are those serving the UK during the worst healthcare crisis in modern history – they should not have to pay £2400 to be able to call the UK their home.
‘Many IMGs report low morale and are considering opportunities abroad because these extortionate fees to have permanent residency in UK makes them feel undervalued and unwanted.’
Penelope Sucharitkul, editorial lead at DAUK, said: ‘According to last year’s GMC annual workforce report our health services could not function without IMGs. However, the flow of IMGs into the workforce is unpredictable, with the data showing that IMGs leave the UK workforce at a higher rate.’
Meanwhile, a new study published this week has found that a high turnover of GPs leads to more A&E attendances by patients, highlighting a ‘desperate need to maximise retention’.