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Calls To Reduce Visa Paperwork To Tackle GP Shortage

Reducing the amount of Skilled Worker Visa red tape faced by overseas general practitioners may help with the shortage of qualified doctors in the UK, claim key UK medical bodies.

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    Lengthy Visa Delays Post-Brexit 

    Leading medical experts have raised concerns that changes to the visa system following Brexit are having a significant impact on the process of recruiting GPs to the UK healthcare system.

    The Financial Times reports the British Medical Association (BMA) believe the increased reliance on non-EU foreign doctors and the lengthy visa process is leading to delays in filling vacant positions – which in turn is having an impact on the level of care provided to patients.

    Female doctor

    “Waste Of Skills, Time And Money”

    Dr Kieran Sharrock, of the BMA’s England GP committee, explained close to 2,000 full-time qualified GPs have left the sector over the past 8 years so it is vital to take steps to make it easier to tackle this nationwide shortage.

    He added: “With around half of GPs in England subject to these visa restrictions, it’s potentially a huge waste – of skills, time and money – if these doctors are then forced to leave general practice or the NHS because of a problem that is so easily solvable.”

    Overseas Doctors “Deterred” By Visa Delays

    Current immigration rules require GP practices to obtain a Sponsor Licence so they can become an official sponsor of skilled workers from overseas. While the cost of up to £1,500 is nominal for most medical practices, the real concern is over the amount of time and bureaucracy needed to complete the process – meaning candidates are often left waiting or opt to find employment elsewhere.

    Recently, the Royal College of GPs called on the Home Office to consider the impact of the current visa rules and that it could be making the UK less attractive to overseas doctors as well as deterring trainee GPs from making the UK their home.

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