New visa rule stops non-EU doctors training in the UK

The government has been accused of betraying thousands of trainee doctors from abroad by implementing a sudden rule change on immigration.

The rules, introduced this month without warning, mean most non-EU doctors can no longer complete NHS training without work permits.

Hundreds of doctors are being urged to protest against the rule change outside the Department of Health today.

The “visa-free” deal was set up to help the NHS to make up numbers and rapidly expand its provision.

Historically, this led to doctors from countries including India playing a key part in the NHS’s growth – comprising up to 70% of all doctors in some areas of Britain.

But under the new rules, these doctors and dentists will no longer be able to automatically seek training placements.

Hospitals must prove they cannot recruit a junior doctor from Britain or the EU before they can shortlist candidates from other countries.

The British Medical Association accused the government of changing the rules without any regard for welfare. It said at least 9,000 doctors in short-term junior and senior house officer grades would be affected.

“There is definitely a need for a new system where the number of doctors coming to the country is based on the needs of the NHS, but what the government is doing is unfair on the doctors who are already here,” Dr Jo Hilborne, chairman of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee told the BBC.

But a spokesman for the Home Office said transitional arrangements drawn up with the Department of Health would apply to some of those affected.

Junior doctors and dentists in current training posts would be allowed to complete those placements, he said.

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