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Royal colleges call for increase to number of UK visas for overseas physicians

Senior doctors are calling on the UK government to make special provision to increase the number of doctors from outside the EEA.

The call comes in response to staff shortages across the NHS, and as the health service makes preparations for when the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

In evidence to the recent consultation by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on what occupations and job titles should be included in their Shortage Occupation List (SOL), the Federation of the Royal Colleges of Physicians has called for the inclusion of all physician posts across the NHS on the list to ensure that vacant posts can be filled as the UK leaves the EU.

In addition, the partner organisations have called for the MAC to:

  • Recognise the case that Acute Internal Medicine and Geriatric Medicine physician posts should be added to the SOL in their own right based on the significant evidence that these specialties are in national shortage.
  • Consider the role it could play in making a recommendation that Junior doctor foundation year 1 and year 2 posts are added to the SOL.
  • Consider the skilled roles undertaken across the health and social care professions that currently are not included on the SOL and are unlikely to meet the MACs recommendation for the skilled workers salary threshold of £30,000. If these roles remain in shortage the workload for physicians increases which further exacerbates workforce shortages.

The federation is a partnership between the Royal College of Physicians of London, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.

Speaking following the publication of the evidence, Professor Andrew Goddard, president, Royal College of Physicians said: “Too much is being asked of a physician workforce struggling to cope with increasing demands from an ageing population presenting ever-more complex combinations of health problems at the same time as vacancies go unfilled, burn-out levels increase and morale falls.

“We must take positive action now if we’re to ensure that we have a workforce able to meet the demands of the modern NHS.”

President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Professor Derek Bell added: “Between 2007 and 2017 the number of consultants across the UK increased by over 70%, from 9,092 to 15,727. But 10 years ago, 80% of advertised consultant posts across the country which were successfully filled; by 2017 that had dropped to 55%.

“We’ve come together with the other Royal Colleges to make the positive case for allowing doctors to come and work in the UK, as we believe that this is vital if we’re to address the workforce challenges within the NHS that our membership faces each day.”

Read the full response.

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