September 27, 2020

Post Brexit immigration visa cap could damage healthcare workforce, warn UK health professionals

The Chartered Society for Physiotherapists (CSP) has joined other professional organisations representing  nurses, doctors and managers in expressing concerns over proposals for a £30,000 salary threshold on visa applications, introduced in the Immigration White Paper in December.

The threshold would effectively bar physiotherapists and other healthcare professionals such as paramedics from coming to the UK to seek work, despite there The Cavendish Coalition (a UK-wide coalition across social care and health, bringing together employers and unions across the state, charitable and private sector), have released a statement calling on home secretary Sajid Javid to lower the threshold, which it believes should reflect the reality of pay and skills needs in UK health and social care.The Coalition issued a statement, saying:

‘While it is anticipated there may be some provisions for doctors and nurses coming to the UK after Brexit, this ignores physios, paramedics and other allied health professionals and there will be severe implications for the social care workforce in particular as well as outstanding concerns on doctor and nurse recruitment.’

Rob Yeldham, CSP director of policy, told Frontline:

Some 14% of registered physios are from outside the UK, and half of them are from Europe. 

‘We want to see the UK Government change the whole visa system. Physios and physio support workers should not be judged on economic criteria. Their value is in the improvements they make to the health and wellbeing of their patients. That is what the immigration system needs to recognise.’

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) welcomed the removal of the cap on highly skilled workers but agreed with the CSP that high salary thresholds on visas would harm recruitment.

With the starting salary for nurses currently around £23,000, a salary threshold above this could prevent nurses from other countries being recruited into the NHS, worsening the staffing crisis.

NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer said:

“A recent report commissioned by the Cavendish Coalition revealed the NHS could be short of 51,000 nurses – enough to staff 45 hospitals – by the end of the Brexit transition period.

“The proposals in the Immigration White Paper do not provide a long-term solution to the needs of the NHS across nursing and other professions. They continue to confuse high pay with high skill and high value: the staff from the UK and around the world working in the NHS and social care do not command high pay but are hugely skilled and provide vital services to our families.