Will the NHS benefit from the lifting of Tier 2 visa restrictions?

20 August, 2018

It has been announced that NHS workers will be exempt from the Tier 2 visa numbers cap  - but this might not mark the end of the staffing woes.

The NHS was thrown into turmoil earlier this year, following the government’s decision to reject a large number of Tier 2 visa applications from skilled medical workers wanting to join the NHS, and living outside the European Economic Area.

From December 2017 through to May 2018, it’s estimated that around £2,360 visa applications made by doctors with job offers in the UK were denied. This was to ensure that the government stayed within its 20,700 annual cap on Tier 2 visas. This action led to a shortfall of NHS workers and caused numerous organisations to recruit agency workers to step in. This was an incredibly trying time for the NHS, but thankfully some relief was felt when the government announced it was relaxing laws around Tier 2 visas for NHS applicants.

The NHS accounts for roughly 40% of all the Tier 2 places according to government estimates. The delay recruiting substantive positions not only affects the service delivery of the NHS, but it also generates increased costs as a result of having to fill these positions with agency staff.

But the question is, will this decision provide some much needed relief from the staffing pressures that the NHS is facing? Where does it leave other industry sectors and organisations that are equally reliant on overseas workers? How can other bodies similar to the NHS ensure they are future-proofed against similar issues in the coming post-Brexit years?

For the time being, HR professionals hope that the relaxation of Tier 2 visa rules for the NHS benefit other companies and organisations relying on overseas workers. Only time will tell if the government’s decision is a wise one; or if it is just the equivalent of sticking a plaster on a wound that requires stitches.

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