Visa cap for doctors will not be reintroduced, Hancock says

The tier 2 visa cap will not be reintroduced for overseas doctors wanting to work in the UK, health secretary Matt Hancock has said.


Responding to questions from the health and social care committee in parliament yesterday, Mr Hancock said that the government had ‘no intention’ of reintroducing restrictions on the number of doctors and nurses entering NHS employment through the tier 2 visa route.

His words came in response to committee chair and former GP Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, who said she understood the ‘very welcome’ removal of the visa cap for foreign doctors and nurses, which was announced in June, to be ‘time limited’.

Mr Hancock replied: ‘No, it’s not.’

Tier 2 visa cap

There was speculation last week that health workers’ exemption from the visa cap could face 'abrupt reversal' after newly-published correspondence between the home secretary Sajid Javid and the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) revealed the ‘temporary’ decision to be under review.

This led campaign group The Doctors' Association UK (DAUK) to write to the home secretary highlighting the ‘destructive effect’ on the NHS that a reinstatement of the cap could have.

However, Mr Hancock reassured the committee that these concerns were unfounded. He said: ‘The Home Office answered a question in the standard way they do in that all visa arrangements are kept under review. That was interpreted to mean that this was a temporary scheme. We have no intention of changing it.’

Visa costs

Mr Hancock was giving evidence to the health and social care committee about the impact that the UK’s departure from the EU could have on the NHS.

On the subject of immigration, Mr Hancock said he did not have a ‘specific estimate’ of the visa costs involved in employing doctors and nurses from the EU post-Brexit.

He said: ‘Visa costs haven’t been set and the immigration policy white paper hasn’t yet been agreed, but it is something that I’m working closely with the home office on.’

He added: ‘Our proposal is that we’re going to have a global skill-based immigration system. We currently have an uncapped system for attracting doctors and nurses from the rest of the world outside the EEA currently which I think is great and I want to see the brightest and the best doctors and nurses around the world continuing to come to the UK as they do now.’

Research published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine earlier this month suggested that post-Brexit immigration restrictions could result in an NHS 'staffing crisis' - affecting the quality of both healthcare provision and research in the UK.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

Clinical trials: Microscope in a lab

GPs could be incentivised to recruit patients onto commercial clinical trials

GPs could be offered incentives to recruit patients onto commercial clinical trials...

Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: How many GPs do we need for safe general practice, pay restoration, the state of premises

Talking General Practice looks at safe working limits and the number of GPs we need...

Stethoscope and a computer

EMIS to keep panic button after outcry from GPs

EMIS, one of the main GP IT system providers, has backtracked on plans to phase out...

Health minister Lord Markham

Health minister Lord Markham: How we will support GPs to offer patients greater choice

Health minister Lord Markham explains what the government's plans for using the NHS...

Patient receives the flu vaccine

Flu vaccination campaign to return to pre-pandemic cohorts this year

This year's flu vaccination campaign is set to be reduced after it was expanded during...

Plant-based diet

Vegan and vegetarian diets can play key role in reducing cardiovascular risk, study finds

Plant-based diets can play a significant role in lowering the risk of stroke and...