Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt is pushing for a temporary exemption for doctors and nurses to a cap on skilled workers from outside the EU
Theresa May is facing a Cabinet revolt over visa restrictions blamed for depriving the NHS of hundreds of foreign medics.
Jeremy Hunt is pushing for a temporary exemption for doctors and nurses to put a cap on skilled workers from outside the EU.
The Health Secretary says that while Britain is training more medical staff of its own, this process will take years – meaning more foreign staff are needed to fill NHS vacancies.
He has been backed in private by Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, who is said to be ‘very sympathetic’ to the case for a temporary exemption.
Chancellor Philip Hammond and Business Secretary Greg Clark, who want even looser restrictions on skilled workers, are also said to be ready to back the cause.
A group of Tory backbenchers, said to number dozens, have also signed a letter to the Prime Minister urging her to soften her position on the issue.
The British Medical Journal, which is also campaigning to change the rules, says more than 1,500 foreign doctors were refused a visa between December and March despite having job offers from the NHS.
The Tory backbenchers’ letter, written by MP Heidi Allen, said the cap was ‘forcing the country to make a binary choice between professionals needed to grow the economy and professionals needed to staff our health system’. It warns: ‘Without urgent intervention, we believe our NHS is heading towards a perfect storm.’
The row centres on the annual quota of 20,700 Tier 2 visas available for skilled workers