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Tier 2 immigration cap preventing NHS from effective overseas recruitment

Recruitment into the NHS has been crippled by the government’s malfunctioning ‘tier 2 cap’ on immigration, a committee of MPs finds.

Under the cap public sector workers recruited from abroad are subject to unacceptably high salary threshold in prioritising cases, according to the Home Affairs Select Committee.

The result of which has helped create a crisis in nurse recruitment, effectively crippling the NHS over winter, it concludes.

The aim of the tier 2 cap was to deliver the Government’s objective of reducing net migration to the UK of ‘tens of thousands’. However, there is a significant disparity between the net migration figure, currently 336,000 a year, and the relatively small number of 20,700 possible tier 2 visas.

The number of people coming to the UK to take up work has not reduced, and the number of people seeking to come to take up a high skilled job in the UK has increased.

One of the stated aims of the cap is to incentivise domestic training and recruitment, in business and public services. However, the evidence shows that UK businesses that recruit skilled foreign workers do train their own workforces, and training more nurses domestically, for example, would require the Government to increase the number of nursing training places available.

Chair of the Committee Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP said: “The government’s immigration cap does not fit and it may even be counter-productive. It is having no effect on bringing down net migration.

“Britain must be open for business to achieve this we need skilled workers. When the cap was reached earlier this year, we saw the perverse effects of the system, as the cap prioritises higher paid jobs. In June, nurses were being prevented from working in the UK, which necessitated the Government taking emergency measures to allow recruitment to continue. Whilst this was a very welcome move, it is clear to see that the system could have caused a crisis in the NHS this winter. A system which encourages panicked adjustments to be functional is not fit for purpose.”

Vaz said nurses should remain on the Shortage Occupation List.

It comes as other research reveals that 92% of the 225 acute hospital trusts in England did not manage to run wards with their planned number of nurses during the day in August.

HSJ figures suggest average staffing levels across the 225 acute hospital sites in August was worse compared with data for January, when 85% of hospitals missed their staffing targets for nurses working during the day.

The figures also showed 81% of hospitals failed to have enough registered nurses working at night.

Danny Mortimer, Chief Executive, NHS Employers, said: “We welcome the Home Affairs Select Committee report and the recognition of the view of NHS organisations that the ongoing shortage of nurses is not a short term issue.

“The health and social care sector is experiencing unprecedented demand on services and this has a direct impact on the need for skilled clinical staff to be employed to deliver care to patients. Nursing needs to be on the shortage occupation list on a more permanent basis and be more responsive to changing needs in demand.”

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One Response to “Tier 2 immigration cap preventing NHS from effective overseas recruitment”

  1. mct.morrison says:

    It is quite clear that within ‘government’ the “right hand does not know what the left hand is doing”! One ‘Department’ does not know what the effects of its ‘policies’ is having on another Dept!

    The problem is we do NOT train enough doctors and nurses in this country to ‘supply’ the NHS with the staff they need. And the problem with ‘immigration’ is that the govt. CANNOT control the numbers coming from the EU.

    We now have the ludicrous position that the NHS is short of doctors and nurses – and cannot ‘import’ them from abroad; and many doctors trained in this country want to go abroad because of the way they are treated in the NHS!

    But, if wards cannot have the right number of staff with the right (necessary) experience, then they should shut down elective care and concentrate the staff they have on ’emergencies only’. Sadly, only when this happens (and it is the clinicians’ responsibility to determine what is ‘safe’), will ‘management’ (and politicians) take any notice.

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