We bring you the latest news from the healthcare about the health care in the United Kingdom.

donderdag 7 juni 2018

RCGP: RCGP calls for 'common sense' overhaul of visa rules for GPs

RCGP calls for 'common sense' overhaul of visa rules for GPs

In a letter sent to the Home Secretary before the weekend, College Chair Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard outlines the intense resource pressures facing general practice and the barriers preventing the recruitment of overseas GPs - warning that his own Government's target of attracting 5,000 more GPs by 2020 is looking "increasingly difficult to achieve."

She urges Mr Javid to put 'human beings and common sense over policy and process'.

Prof Stokes-Lampard highlights the restrictive policies which are preventing appropriately trained doctors from practising in the UK at a time of severe GP shortages, calling for:

  • GPs to be added to the Migration Advisory Committee's Shortage Occupation List (SOL). Currently, the number of GPs moving to the UK to work is restricted due to the overall cap on migrants, and the fact that a Resident Labour Market Test must be carried out for vacancies, despite clear workforce shortages across the UK.
  • Urgent action to reduce the burdens of red tape and heavy financial costs that are preventing GP practices from employing the GPs they desperately need.

At the weekend, Mr Javid said he would review the visa caps for doctors - including the 'Tier 2' policy that directly affects the eligibility of GPs to work in the UK.

The College's letter stresses the desperate need for more GPs to be able to work in the UK so that patients can continue to receive care in their local communities.

Over 1 million patients in the UK see their GP every day but the College says the profession is caught in a 'pincer movement' of GPs retiring early and insufficient numbers of students choosing general practice training who can take their place.

In the letter, Prof Stokes-Lampard profiles two real-life examples, as well as the case of Dr Luke Ong, a GP trainee who was threatened with deportation in March:

  • The first, a Syrian medical student from Aleppo who is soon to complete his family medicine training in Beirut. He has passed the necessary language qualifications and taken the GP training ranking exam, in which he did very well, and has been offered a training post in the UK. But he was denied a visa by the Home Office because GPs are not on the Shortage Occupation List.
  • The second, a Canadian citizen coming to the end of his GP training in Manchester. His Tier 2 visa will expire at the end of his training, but whilst he wants to practise in the NHS, he is struggling to apply for a job that is able to sponsor him as many GP practices face difficulties offering Tier 2 sponsorship.

The first example flies in the face of a response the College received from the former Minister of State for Immigration Brandon Lewis in December last year, following previous calls for GPs to be added to the Shortage Occupation List, in which he suggested the move was unnecessary as any GP could be sponsored via the Tier 2 route where they are needed.

The second example highlights the barriers that GP practices face in their ability to recruit and employ overseas GPs, such as having to satisfy the Resident Labour Market Test before they are eligible to offer Tier 2 sponsorship.

Prof Stokes-Lampard also highlights an additional hurdle facing GP trainees from overseas who want to practise here once they have completed training in the UK.

She writes: "Most doctors in other medical specialities already meet the five-year criteria for application [for Indefinite Leave to Remain] by the time they finish speciality training in the UK. However, as GP training is just three years, they cannot apply for ILR until they have been in the UK for a further two years. This means that application for Tier 2 sponsorship is often their only option.

"It is clear from recent media reports that the public support the relaxing of immigration rules for people wanting to come from overseas to live in the UK to work in the NHS.

She concludes: "We need an immigration system that puts human beings and common sense over policy and process, and works in the best interests of the British public."

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GPs always 'at the forefront of innovation' in the NHS' says College

"Workload in general practice has increased exponentially over recent years, both in terms of volume and complexity, yet the share of the NHS budget we receive is less than it was a decade ago, and GP numbers are decreasing.

"GPs and our teams have always been at the forefront of innovation in the NHS. Across the country we are already working differently to retain the key features of our general practice, as highlighted in this report, including continuity of care, a person-centred approach to care and easily accessible care, close to home in the community.

"We know that these are also the things our patients value about general practice, and why GPs are consistently rated amongst the most trusted healthcare professionals in the NHS.

"GPs are certainly not scared of change, but we do need the support and resources to implement change effectively, in the best interests of patient care, and ultimately the wider NHS.

"This report underlines just how important it is that NHS England's GP Forward View, including £2bn extra a year for general practice and 5,000 more GPs by 2020, is delivered in full and as a matter of urgency.

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Health Secretary must not 'give up' on efforts to boost GP workforce' says RCGP

"It is becoming abundantly clear, with GP numbers in England dropping, that efforts to build the profession by 5,000 GPs by 2020 are not working fast enough. The Health Secretary has now recognised this publicly for the first time, but it is essential that he does not give up on this much-needed target, but implements new, innovative measures to meet it.

"We know that we have more GPs in training than ever before, but it takes many years to train a GP. We need to concentrate on retaining our experienced family doctors in the profession so that patients can benefit from their expertise, and newer GPs can learn from them – and we need to start by tackling workload in general practice that has escalated both in volume and complexity in recent years, and the unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy that GPs are increasingly having to deal with.

"It also hammers home how important it is that Home Secretary Sajid Javid takes heed of our calls to put common sense over policy and process by relaxing immigration rules to make it easier for GP practices to employ appropriately-trained doctors from overseas, and to add GPs to the Migration Advisory Committee's shortage occupation list, to make it easier for overseas doctors who want to live in the UK, and work in NHS general practice, to do so.

"We eagerly anticipate the Prime Minister's upcoming announcement of her long-term plan for the NHS, and we are encouraged by the Health Secretary's announcement that the increase to NHS funding will be 'significant'. It is essential that as part of this, Mrs May recognises the vital role general practice makes in the health service – making the vast majority of NHS patient contacts, for around 9% of the overall budget – and ensures that our profession receives its fair share of any new investment."

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