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Jun 13th, 2018

NHS & Immigration – next steps

By Becca McCarthy

Our NHS hospitals are at breaking point because there aren’t enough staff. [1] Government red tape and made-up targets mean thousands of doctors and nurses from overseas are being blocked from coming here. [2]

But now, after weeks of pressure, we could be on the brink of a breakthrough. [3]

The government could be about to change the rules to let the NHS recruit as many doctors and nurses as our struggling hospitals need. It’s rumoured that Home Secretary Sajid Javid will make the final decision in the next few days.

That’s where we come in. Top politicians are always monitoring how their decisions are going down with the public. Emails from thousands of us, streaming into his office today, could be the final push he needs to ease the NHS staffing crisis.

Please will you email the Home Secretary now? It only takes a minute, you can do it on your phone, and there’s a suggested email to help you:


Right now, the government has an overall cap on the number of skilled workers from outside the EU who can migrate to Britain. [4] But doctors, nurses and specialists from overseas are included in that target – which means the NHS can’t recruit the staff it desperately needs.

NHS bosses have been sounding the alarm, saying it could have “serious consequences” for pateint safety. [5] In the last few months, more than 2,300 doctors were blocked from coming to the UK because of this made-up target. [6]

When hospitals and GPs don’t have the staff they need, it’s patients like us that suffer. [7] It means long waits on trolleys in A&E corridors, or operations being cancelled and delayed for months. If we want to make sure the NHS continues to be the best in the world, something needs to change – and fast.

The government has disagreed for years about whether the immigration targets for NHS staff should be scrapped. Home Secretary Sajid Javid has been lobbying Theresa May. Now, it finally it looks like she might support a decision to allow more overseas staff to work in our NHS – but it isn’t final yet. We need to make sure he follows through with a bold decision.


[1] The Guardian: Patient safety hit by lack of staff, warn 80% of NHS workers:
[2] (Paywall) The Financial Times: Home Office rejects more than 2,300 visa applications for doctors:
The Guardian: UK hits visa cap on skilled workers for third month in row:
Personnel Today: Counting the cost of the non-EU immigration cap:
HCL Workforce solutions: Migrant rules leaving NHS short of highly-skilled professionals:
[3] (Paywall) The Times: Philip Hammond to raise billions in extra tax for the NHS:
[4] Immigration: Tories to keep ‘tens of thousands’ target:
[5] The Times: Staffing crisis worsened by visa curbs, doctors warn:
[6] See note 2
[7] The Sun: Future is bleak: NHS patients ‘more at risk than ever’, shock poll of medics reveals:

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