NHS groups welcome immigration change for doctors and nurses

The Home Office said foreign medics are to be excluded from the government’s cap on skilled migration.

NHS bosses said the move would be a “huge relief” to health trusts.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it was “extremely welcome.”

The Royal College of GPs said it was a “great step forward.”

The cap sets the limit for all non-EU skilled workers at 20,700 a year.

The British Medical Journal has said that between December 2017 and March 2018 more than 1,500 visa applications from doctors with job offers in the UK were refused as a result of the cap on workers from outside the European Economic Area.

The move would also create space for thousands more immigrants in areas like science and IT.

Sunder Katwala, director of the immigration think-tank British Future, said removing medical personnel from the visa cap would be a “sensible move”.

He said: “It never made sense to turn away doctors and nurses that the NHS needs. It also frees up Tier 2 visa places for other employers who need high-skilled staff to fill vacancies.

“It’s the right short-term fix for 2018. In the longer term, Britain will need better training of doctors, engineers and others here in the UK, together with an immigration system that welcomes people with the skills we need.

“But perhaps this is a sign that Home Secretary Sajid Javid is willing to take a bolder and more flexible approach to immigration, and deliver the kind of system that Britain will need after we leave the EU.”