Home Office ‘blocked’ doctors from taking up vital NHS jobs

The Home Office has blocked senior doctors from overseas who have been appointed to fill key roles in hospitals around the UK because their NHS salaries are too low under immigration rules.

The Guardian found that at least 20 doctors were prevented from taking up posts in departments including intensive care in the past two months, causing anger and bewilderment among already stretched doctors.

The Home Office decision comes against the backdrop of a recruitment crisis in the NHS partly caused by the vote for Brexit.

University Hospitals Birmingham confirmed that 18 staff had been turned down for tier 2 visas in the past two months, including 16 doctors in senior medical posts in trauma, plastic surgery and elderly care.

Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge confirmed that three doctors recruited for the John Farman intensive care unit had been turned down because of a £55,000 salary threshold set by the Home Office.

The doctors, who are at middle-level registrar and senior clinical fellow positions, would typically be on salaries of between £30,000 and £45,000 and were recruited from the Caribbean, India and Pakistan.

Consultants may be asked to ‘act down’ and cover the shifts the overseas doctors had been recruited form but this may mean elective surgery has to be rescheduled.

Cambridge University Hospitals said it was ‘disappointed to learn that visas for three overseas doctors due to join us in February have been declined because they do not meet a criteria that includes a salary threshold of £55,000’.

The Home Office said in a statement: “When demand exceeds the month’s allocation of tier 2 (general) visas, priority is given to applicants filling a shortage or PhD-level occupations.

“The published shortage lists include a range of medical professionals, including consultants specialising in clinical radiology and emergency medicine, and we estimate that around a third of all tier 2 places go to the NHS.”

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