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BMA: Why new visa rules could prompt exodus of foreign doctors

Doctors

The British Medical Association (BMA) has warned that new recommendations from the UK Government’s Migrations Advisory Committee (MAC) could force many overseas graduates to leave NHS.

The government’s immigration advisor has recommended restricting the link between Tier 4 visas, which are used for medical students and foundation doctors, and Tier 2, which are used for specialty training. BMA says this would mean, after foundation training is completed, the graduates would only be able to take up specialty training posts if there was no suitable candidate from the European Economic Area.

The BMA holds that around 500 overseas graduates of UK medical schools each year who could be affected by the MAC’s recommendations.

DoctorsIn a letter to Immigration Minister James Brokenshire, BMA council chair Mark Porter warns that the proposals could seriously affect the medical graduates and the NHS.

While pointing out the BMA does not support the “unfettered immigration of overseas doctors”, Dr Porter says in his letter: “International medical graduate doctors have become essential members of the UK’s medical workforce and the NHS is dependent on them to provide high-quality, reliable and safe services to patients.

“It is in this context that I am concerned that the recommendations made by the MAC, if implemented, will have a series of unintended and harmful consequences for the medical workforce and the wider NHS.”

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Dr Porter further warns in his letter that “restricting the supply of UK trained doctors progressing through the system could also severely disrupt the achievement of the Government’s goal of implementing seven-day services across the NHS”.

Canadian medical student Cal Robinson fears the proposals mean he will be unable to complete his training within the NHS.

“The success of international medical student recruitment to the UK is predicated on the availability of subsequent training and career opportunities in the NHS,” Mr Robinson says. “Amid ongoing contract disputes between junior doctors and the Government, immigration policies should reflect the desperate need to retain high-quality, UK-trained doctors in the health service.”

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